Earlier this week, I was doing some reflecting. A local television station had asked what people remembered about 9/11 and I started to think back to that day. I remember specific things about that day really clearly, like how blue and perfect the sky was that day. What really sticks with me, though, are the months afterward and what it was like to live in our country then. There was a feel good feeling that developed in our country at a time when we really needed it. We had been through an election that also had people questioning the electoral college system when Al Gore lost to George Bush and the popular vote lost out.
After the attacks, though, it didn’t matter if your candidate had won or lost. People became much less focused on their differences and a lot more in tune with what makes us the same. We treasured our time together and took care of one another. There were definite shifts in our thinking. Airline travel changed radically and a lot of things we’d always taken for granted were analyzed and thought about differently. The sense, though, was that we were all in it together.
I thought about all that and compared it to today. These days, we can’t wait to get home to our dogs because people are so unpredictable and intolerant of each other. Everyone has a strong opinion, and if it’s different from yours, they may not even be able to be your friend. People hide behind keyboards and type all kinds of vile things that they would never say to someone’s face. We’ve forgotten how to be civil to each other in a lot of cases. It’s a long way from where we were seventeen years ago.
Then I look at my dogs. They weren’t alive to see the events of 9/11, or to greet me when I got home that day, but I know that they would be the same on that day as they are on any day. They treat us the way we ought to treat other people. I don’t mean giving them a thorough sniff over when we meet them. I mean being present for each other. My dogs are so good at that and on a tough day, I can count on coming home and forgetting the rest of the world while I enjoy some dog time.
I would never wish for another terror attack. What we’ve already experienced is more than enough. I do wish that we could have another unifying event that brought us together and reminded us to focus on the things that are truly important versus the “stuff” that we get distracted with. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, that would be dull, but I do wish that we could agree to disagree and still be friends. We need that feel good feeling to come back, and hopefully if it ever does, we won’t take it for granted.