After the attack on the U.S. by Al Qaida, I – like most Americans – was moved to do…something. Now, I'm a fairly undemonstrative person, anyway, and not one to rush into jingoism in instances like 9/11. So after letting the whole thing ferment for a couple of days, I thought: such events are not only terrible – they're an opening to move the status quo, to change things for the good.
But what can one person do – even a group of people?
Of course, we all know what the nation chose – war. Maybe that was appropriate, maybe not. But I chose to see if I could raise awareness to the event in terms of using the chaos following 9/11 in some small way to direct our attention to the event as an opening to bring peace to solutions, to nations, to people.
I had been building a small bridge in the backyard - a decoration for the landscaping that was to come. The more I looked at that bridge, the more I came to see it as a symbol of the way I was understanding 9/11.
So I had a small plaque made, with the date on it, and a few simple words:
The Peace Bridge
With that done, I scrolled down my email list (not a long one a decade ago) and sent all on it a message of what I'd done and why. I asked that everyone who desired to see 9/11 as an opening to a better world turn their thoughts in that direction on the day I and my wife dedicated the bridge. The dedication was a simple one – I simply read off the names of those who had responded.
Now, ten years later, we've taken time to remember these events, to think of how they've shaped the world, how they've changed us. It's probably too soon to pass judgment on the ensuing decade of events – there've been two long wars in the Middle East, but then there's been the Arab Spring. There's been the freedom-cramping Patriot Act, but there's been a rising national awareness of the value of our freedoms. And we continue to debate these events, their wisdom, their results.
Eventually that moment and the events it set off will crystallize, and we'll understand that we've done with it. Part of my time of reflection these past days has been to wonder if a better world will ensue. I honestly don't know – but there's still hope.