Friday, September 11, 2009

Transforming 9/11

It was a fine Colorado autumn morning and I'd taken my car to the shop for something unmemorable when, listening to NPR, it became clear this was no

LITTLETON, CO - APRIL 20: Jake Schreck, 25, of...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

ordinary plane crash. Along with most of America, I spent the rest of the day glued to the television, calling family members to tell them I loved them.

The mental image of a country at war, younger friends being drafted, me in
sisting on enlisting in order to take care of them, began to form as a real possibility. There was no way to tell what was coming next or where, and daily life seemed comically trivial in comparison. I thought to myself, so this is what it was like for my father sixty years ago. Well, dad, now I know.

That's where I was then. Where I am now is something else again. You see, a little
over a year before September 11, 2001, thirteen were killed at Columbine High School, only a few miles from my home in Boulder. Over time, I would eventually work with some of the survivors. The strangeness of this life can't be measured and even the outcome of terror may be transforming.

While there are still some who pejoratively accuse the new President of being "an Arab," as a though that qualifies him for a front row seat in hell, I've become friends with medical students who are Islamic. We share the same desire to become doctors, we've stood side by side long hours in the anatomy lab and together, sweated out the uncertainty of exam week. Their uncertainties are identical with mine and they, too, rely on their faith to get them through. It would never occur to any of us to show each other anything other than respect -- and trust.

We love our country and we love one another. We're people, we wish to be healers, and we remember where we were on September 11 not only because it was horrific but because we want to do something about it. We want to change the future, and we do that best by changing one another and ourselves, as well.

Reflecting on Columbine, Image by Getty Images via Daylife)
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