This is a blog for voiceover, not politics or religion. However, I find myself compelled to speak on both. Below is a blog post that I wrote last year. I re-read it this year and I find I still feel the same way; I’m still struggling with the same feelings. And I’m struggling with new feelings over a misguided Florida reverend who advocates book burning to send a message to “radical Islam”.
I find the idea of burning any book abhorrent and I think the only message it sends is one of fear, censorship, and a closed mind. As I write this, it appears that the book burning will not actually occur and for that I am truly grateful. But when I read that the reverend received a call from the Pentagon, I can’t help but wonder which means were used to achieve that end. As distasteful as this is (and trust me, I feel a little dirty typing this), I defend the reverend’s right to burn books under the First Amendment and I fear a world where that right is taken away.
I fear 9/11 was the beginning of the removal of many of our rights under democracy. The government seems to clamp down harder and harder in an effort to wipe out terrorism. We seem to turn on each other out of suspicion and fear. Or there are those who, out of fear or complacency, do nothing to fight the negativity surrounding these issues.
Today, let’s be better than our fears. Let’s practice religious freedom and tolerance. Rather than fear the unknown, let’s try to learn more and perhaps reduce the fear and misunderstandings. We’re all human beings and I think we share more common ground than not. I think if we try, we can find understanding and common ground despite political and religious differences. I have a wide group of friends; we don’t all have the same political and religious beliefs but we have some great conversations. I learn from them (and hopefully they from me) and I am better for having them in my life. I am better for exposure to ideas other than my own!
Thank you for reading this. Please join me in finding compassion for those who would hurt us, practicing religious tolerance, and spreading a message of peace. What follows is my blog post “Remembering 9/11” from last year:
Everyone has their “where were you when” story. My mom remembers where she was when Kennedy was shot. Most of my friends remember watching the Challenger crash. For the longest time, I didn’t have a “where were you when” story and, morbid as it may sound, I always felt a little left out. Well, I very much remember where I was during 9/11.
It was a Tuesday and I had the flu. The night before, I had fallen asleep with the TV on so I was a little confused to hear voices when I woke up. I didn’t wake up right away either, being rather thick in the head to due congestion and fever, so the news of the disaster was slowly filtering into my awareness. I struggled to pull myself out of the fog and into consciousness. I saw the news. All four planes had already crashed, but as I watched the news unfold, it was like being hit with one sledgehammer after another.
Oh my gosh, a plane hit one of the twin towers?
No! Another plane hit the other tower??
The South Tower fell!?
The North Tower fell?!?
It had already happened, but watching the video coverage, I felt like I was experiencing it in real time. I felt torn apart, I was weeping. I watched the video of planes crashing; people jumping out of the buildings to get away from fire, flames, and heat; and buildings falling. I didn’t feel it was insensitive to show the people who jumped from the buildings on the news. I needed to see it. They were already dead by the time I saw the footage, but I still wanted to run and catch them, save them if I could. I felt pain, I felt hurt, I felt… such loss. I was watching Peter Jennings report the news. He stayed on the air for hours, I think something like 16 hours straight. I just wrapped myself in a blanket and watched him, stayed with him. Towards the end of the day, he looked so tired, so somber, but he stuck it out. He reported the horror with such compassion, such feeling. A reporter, but with a sense of humanity and dignity. More than a reporter: a man, a husband, a father. I didn’t want to watch, it hurt so much to see what I was seeing, what we all were seeing, but I thought, as long as Peter stays, I’ll stay. I’ll stay with him. I felt like we were in it together. We were experiencing this together.
It’s 8 years later and Bin Laden is still a free man. I don’t know how to feel about that. It’s 8 years later and we’re still involved in a war in Iraq. I don’t know how to feel about that either. Of all my emotions, I would say the two most developed are love and anger. I try very hard to share more of one and less of the other, but dealing with anger is still a very difficult thing for me. I’ve also got a hearty sense of vengeance, not that I’ve needed to use it much, but let’s just say forgiveness doesn’t come easily to me. That being said, I hate war. I feel the pain of war like a physical wound, like a stab to my heart. I can’t watch Saving Private Ryan because I wept through it the first and only time I saw it. I thought it was a brilliant film, with excellent writing and stellar acting, but I can’t watch that kind of killing and death voluntarily. It hurts too much.
When it comes to 9/11, I’m less focused on vengeance and more on healing. I’ve used the word “hurt” so much in this post. Whenever I hear stories of war, I feel the hurt of the world so keenly. I wish we, as a race, could find a way to disagree peacefully. I hate that Obama is criticized for appearing too soft for wishing to communicate with countries viewed as our adversaries. It’s considered naive. Then call me naive ’cause I’d rather try communicating than bombing. I get that some people only recognize a use of force, but does that mean the only way to defeat a bully is to become a bully? The Dalai Lama doesn’t think so. He still believes a peaceful solution is possible through dialogue with Chinese leadership. Some may argue that he hasn’t been that successful in the past 58 years, but look at the awareness he has raised throughout the world. Isn’t it just a matter of time before China’s people, government, culture will change?
Today, when you remember 9/11, remember your enemies too. Look for a way to forgive any wrongs that have been done to you. I’m not saying it’s easy. But if we want to end the war in Iraq, maybe we need to lead by example. Maybe it starts on a very small level and grows. Maybe, if we all do it together, something small will become something overwhelming and beautiful. That’s how I’m going to remember 9/11. With love, not with hate. I will share love with all who lost their loves on that day. I will find compassion for those who showed no compassion to the victims of those plane crashes. I will try to heal the hurt.