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Why Can’t Every Day Be 9/11?

Today my Facebook wall is covered with “I remember” and “Never forget” posts, small but meaningful tributes to those that lost their lives on 9/11 and to those that showed true heroism in our darkest hour. It is only right that we pause and reflect on the events of that day, honoring the lives of those we lost and remembering a time when we came together as a nation to confront the tragedy that had befallen all of us.

I also saw on TV where Obama and Romney are suspending their negative ads for the day. Thankfully both campaigns, both men, recognize that today is a day to celebrate what unites us rather than highlight what divides us. Today we’re offered a respite from the name-calling, the demonizing, the bitter, divisive finger-pointing. And all this got me to thinking.

Why can’t every day be 9/11?

Why can’t every day be a day that we pause to show some respect for our fellow Americans? All Americans. Not just those like us.

I didn’t see a Facebook post today that said, “I’ll never forget the Republicans we lost that day” or “I’ll always remember the brave atheist, gay first-responders who showed such valor.”

Why not? Because we were all in it together that day. Those weren’t conservatives, liberals, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, blacks, whites, gays, lesbians, and straights in those buildings and on those planes. They were Americans, and one day a year we seem to have no problem remembering that and forgetting the rest.

Why can’t every day be 9/11?

Why can’t we seem to remember that we weren’t just in it together that day, but that we’re in it together every day? Why can’t we focus on the things we have in common so that we can better resolve our differences? Why does it take the anniversary of 3,000 people being murdered to spare us 24 hours of our leaders calling each other crooks and liars?

Look, I’m no Pollyanna. I understand that we live in complicated times with complicated problems that require complicated choices. I understand that we’re not going to solve our problems by hugging it out. I understand that our differences and our beliefs inspire passion in each of us. I understand that channeling that passion into spirited debate is the only way we’ll move forward.

But spirited debate doesn’t mean shouting the other side down, belittling them, or calling them names. That’s how children settle their disputes, and we owe it to each other and the people who lost their lives that day to be better than that.

Spirited debate requires a respect for each other that I often fear we’ve lost. Whether it’s Facebook flame wars about Chick-Fil-A with friends of your friends’ friends, or the 24/7, vitriolic cockfights on cable news shows, I worry that we’ve become so consumed with hatred and “us vs. them” that we’ll never find our way back to the “us” that really matters. I worry we might be a lost cause.

At least until a day like today. A day when we all put our swords down, show respect for each other, respect for our nation, and remember that we’re all in this together. Why can’t every day be like that?

Why can’t every day be 9/11?



One Smart Remark about “Why Can’t Every Day Be 9/11?”

  • First, Heather McGinnis was like...

    Spot on… so true, so well said.

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