September 11 – My Catalyst for Tolerance and Change

Yahoo Contributor Network

Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.

I never thought I was an intolerant or closed-minded person. As accepting and understanding as I was, however, the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001 taught me that I had a long way to go … and grow. Although I, like most Americans, would do almost anything to turn back the clock and prevent those horrifying acts of terrorism, I can honestly say that I am a better person because they happened.

[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]

On that tragic morning I was on a conference call. As a telecommuter, I was in my home, while most of the other call attendees were in Detroit's Renaissance Center - General Motors' headquarters. My client announced that a plane had just run into the World Trade Center. We all expressed how unfortunate that was, and guessed that it must have been some amateur pilot who really screwed up. Then, a few minutes later, my client announced that a second plane had hit the other tower. There was silence, and within a few seconds she announcement that GM was evacuating the building. From that moment, my life has not been the same.

The events that unfolded during and after this horror have been told and retold. What I find to be a continuation of the tragedy, however, is the prejudice, intolerance, bigotry and outright ignorance that have crippled our nation as a result. Being Muslim suddenly became a crime. Having olive skin suddenly made someone suspect.

I admit that I did not know much about Islam at that time in my life. I too, was one of the ignorant. But I began to educate myself. It soon became apparent that Islam was not the reason for these acts of terror; instead, violent, radical individuals, in the name of Islam, were to blame.

The events of 9/11 taught me what real tolerance is, what true empathy entails, and how fragile the line can be between supremacy and vulnerability.
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