Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
On the morning of 9/11, I had just sat down in my chair at the first Mothers of Preschoolers meeting I had attended since the birth of my third son. As I sat holding my one-month old baby, I could hear crying and tears and shouts all around me. One of the young mothers was frantic. Her husband was in the air that morning and all we knew was that planes were being hijacked and flown into buildings. Terror gripped her face at the unknown fate of her husband. As I gazed at the peacefully sleeping face of my child I wondered how this attack would affect this new life in our small, unknown town in West Texas. As the day wore on and we became more and more aware of just what had happened, I kept looking down at this tiny babe's face and I could not help but be moved and changed.
[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]
My view of how I look at people, how I would treat them, and how I would teach my children to treat others was altered on 9/11. Amidst the terror, the cries, the grief, the anger, I noticed that this child was at peace. He was secure. He was in his mother's arms. He was safe. He slept, hardly stirring. As I saw this blessed one's undisturbed slumber I pondered just what was it that made him feel peace while the rest of us were fearful. I decided that it was the love. This baby felt loved and therefore everything else did not matter. I began to think of the hate that the men who hijacked those planes that morning must have felt for our country, for our people. I could hear the hate all around me. My own 8 and 6 year old boys were angry and plotting ways that they were going to get the people who did this to us. They were not feeling the love that day.
I continued thinking that if hate got us into this mess then it had to be love that would get us out. Many folks preach tolerance, but that still sets up a you vs. them ideology. But if you love someone, then they are more like family and even if you disagree with them you still make room for them at the table. If you think of others as loved ones, then whether right or wrong, in your eyes you do not start to just kill them off over a difference of opinion.
So, I began that day to teach my children about loving their neighbor and I taught them that all men were their neighbors. I taught them by watching what I said. I taught them by pointing out how we all were the same. I banned ugly words like weirdo, fat, and stupid. I taught my children how to find something good about everyone. Oh, it was hard to see the good in some folks, but now it is easier. My baby from that day is now 10 years old and he put it best, "You know Mom, when you have to think about something good in a person it sure is hard to hate them."