“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”

Washington Irving

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No one who was older than a few years will forget where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash in a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Just reading or writing that date makes my heart squeeze in sorrow, and I imagine it will always have that effect.

The events of that infamous day reflect both the worst and best of humanity: the worst, of course, because of the twisted hatred that spawned such vicious attacks…and the best because of the heroism, selflessness, and outpouring of love, support, and generosity exhibited that day and in the weeks and months to come by so many people from all walks of life.

Lessons about the Power of Connection are threaded throughout these events, and I pray that we can redeem the tragedy by learning the lessons:

  • The spectrum of human emotions that day connects us all, and this bond crosses all other divisions: race, nationality, gender, and religion. If we're honest with ourselves, we all bear the seeds of the darker emotions at play on 9/11/01, and we must be vigilant to ensure that they are never given fertile ground in which to sprout. Sadly, terrorists do not have a monopoly on hatred and fear.
  • We must never take the connections with our loved ones for granted. Treasure them and nourish them…every day. We never know when it might be our last this side of Heaven.
  • We must look for the ties that connect us, not the things that separate us. Outrage against the Muslim world is not the answer and would not be the way of Jesus. Fear and Ignorance must be fought and overcome with Love, Tolerance, and Knowledge. These are the connection tools we must use to build a better world.
  • We must all be aware of the powerful emotions within ourselves that can foster division rather than connection…in our personal relationships as well as our attitudes towards issues, events, and other groups of people in the world. Lashing out, fighting back, and getting even can be so easily justified in the wake of this kind of tragedy. Turning the other cheek is neither intuitive nor easy. None of us is immune to those emotions or to saying things that we wish we could take back.
  • We are all connected by our humanity, and when someone is in pain, we all share it.

The following video was an ad aired by Budweiser just one time in honor of those lost on September 11. 2001. They only ran it once, because they didn't want to appear to be trying to benefit from the tragedy. It is a worthy and moving tribute to the loss and heroism of that day:

What connection lessons have you learned from this or other tragedies?

Photo Credit: Scott Moore, Victoria, BC, Canada (courtesy of stck.xchng)

Additional reflections on 9/11: “Lest We Forget”

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