The heart-breaking, gut-wrenching devastation that came in the wake of 9/11 will be felt by many for many, many years to come. So much loss of life. So much loss of potential. All of it gone seemingly in an instant. The stories of loved ones lost and heroes who sacrificed their lives to help others, losing their own lives in the process, hit us all like a freight train, leaving us shattered and grasping for answers to the question of how humans could ever decide to take willful and direct aim at so many innocent people and think it would further their cause? I don’t have answers. There are bits of insight here and there but, on the whole, it mystifies me still.
What I do know is that I choose love over hate. You may say that it’s easy for me to invoke this platitude from my comfy chair in Canada, one of the most peaceful nations there is. You may even say as it relates to 9/11 ‘what do you know? You weren’t there that fateful day. You didn’t lose someone you loved.’ But I wasn’t and I didn’t only because of a ‘hiring freeze’ (you know those instances when HR slams the breaks hard on hiring). If not for whoever it was in HR at Oppenheimer who made the decision in 1998 to put the brakes on hiring, Rob would have been there. I would have likely been in Queens where we thought we’d get a place. I would have been at home with a 3 year-old and an 18 month-old but he would have been at World Financial Centre, right in the thick of it.
Each year on 9/11, I wonder ‘would he have made it out?’ We’ll never know because he wasn’t there. But if he had been, I know in my heart that as much as he loved us, he would have been one of the heroes who helped others first. That’s just who he is. It’s one of the many reasons that I love him.
Like I said before, I choose love over hate. The Beatles’ 'All you need is love' and John Lennon’s 'Imagine' are great reminders of the power of love, kindness, and understanding to transform our world. I would argue that one of our greatest human needs is to be understood. You understand me. I understand you. Now we can get somewhere. Understanding comes with patience. Understanding comes with kindness. Understanding comes with love. And what’s the biggest barrier to understanding (in my opinion)? It’s simple: hate. That is why I choose love over hate; I believe in our human potential to love, be kind, and seek understanding.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but (I hope) I’m not the only one. Peace and harmony are waiting for us. We know what we need to do. Now, like Nike, we need to ‘just do it’.
Remembering with abiding love, all of those, near and far, who felt and continue to feel the weight of 9/11 and feeling forever thankful that our little family was spared the loss of someone we love very much.
Penny has a degree in social and developmental psychology and has devoted her career to programming for kids of all ages in the fields of physical and intellectual literacy. This dedicated fitness enthusiast and involved mom of two university students lives in Oakville with Rob, a great guy with whom she'll soon be celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2019.