Fifteen years ago, I was working at 11 John Street, a few blocks from the World Trade Center. My colleagues and I flew to San Francisco on September 10 for an organizational retreat. In fact, we were originally booked on the tragic Flight 93 on September 11…but we changed our tickets, last minute, to have an extra day in the Bay Area. My gratitude for this stroke of luck is more than offset by the many heartbreaking stories of the victims and their loved ones.
My main memories of the days following the attacks consist of the everyday acts of kindness on the streets of NYC. I remember running into folks I barely knew in my work neighborhood…the newspaper vendor, the coffee guy, etc…and locking eyes in recognition that we were alive. Sometimes we embraced, us virtual strangers.
We should not underestimate the power of these everyday connections. They bind us together, and in small but significant ways, allow us to see each other’s humanity.
Horrible acts of hatred and violence can be so challenging to us in the peacebuilding field. In NYC, even in the immediate aftermath, I heard few calls for vengeance or retribution. I saw an appreciation for life and a love of our diverse community. This inspired me to keep the faith.
I’m grateful to still be in the peace biz, hopefully making a difference. (And, coincidentally, I now work at 111 John Street.)
Peace to all,