I always think of forgiveness at this time of year. September 11th was a day that saw the world change for so many of us. I grew up in an era when we didn’t think about making America great, it was accepted that America was imperfect, but still the best place in the world, and that we were lucky to live here. That Beaver Cleaver wasn’t an oddity, or a made up character, but the kid down the street. I knew my share of Eddie Haskells, so anyone who tells you that all of the 50’s and 60’s tv shows were based on dreams and nothing to do with reality is full of shit. I lived through Viet Nam, and the protests. Through all that, we still held onto our belief, although we may not have expressed it, that we were invincible. No one dared mess with us. We were too strong, too powerful, and we just wouldn’t stand for any nonsense. People were (and still are) dying to come here, not many are trying to escape.
Then the Towers fell. And with them fell our illusions of safety.
I have never judged someone based on religion or skin color or who they choose to sleep with. I’ve never felt the need to hurt someone because they didn’t agree with my beliefs. I still can’t fathom what the purpose was behind flying planes into buildings. Did they REALLY think it would take us to our knees for long? Did they really not know better? Were they honestly that stupid, or that filled with hate?
It didn’t work. It did, however, leave residual anger behind. Anger and grief that have never died. Faded a bit, maybe, over the years. But never gone away completely.
And they left behind a fear. A fear of anyone from a certain area, no matter how innocent they may be. When I went to Ohio a few years ago, I stopped at a rest area near the exit for Shanksville. On my way inside, I stopped and read the plaque that states that this is the area where the plane went down in the field. I went inside, to get a burger for my lunch. In line in front of me was a group of Arab men. I found myself shaking, wanting to yell at them, ask them if they had come to see the monument to their handiwork. This is what the attackers accomplished. Unreasoning fear and hatred of innocent people. Not sure if that’s what they planned.
And on this day, unexpectedly, I got a message from someone I’ve known for years, who cut me off without an explanation a bit over a year ago. A message of apology, a message saying she loves me, and is sorry, and it was not my fault. I have no idea how I’ll respond. Forgiveness? I don’t know if I can.
I struggle with forgiving, and forgetting, hurts done to me. Max never held a grudge. I, however, can hold one till it screams for mercy.
So I shall ponder the message from my former friend, and decide what I want to do about it on another day.
As for the 9/11 attackers – I will never forgive, and never forget.