I have stayed away from most tv, radio, and internet news today, and I hesitated even to write a post. I have always been conflicted about how to pass this anniversary each year. Part of me feels that this day doesn’t belong to me–I’d only been a New Yorker for one week on 9/11/01, and I didn’t have any loved ones in or near the World Trade towers that day. But another part knows that this day belongs to all of us, because our view of the world as a city, a country, and as human beings changed ten years ago.
And one of the things that I learned on 9/11 was that it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in this city for your whole life, for months, or for only hours–if you are here in a moment in which we all need each other, you are a New Yorker, and every other New Yorker is a person you can lean on.
Today, instead of sitting in front of my tv, I lived. I had brunch with friends I’ve known since college. Two of whom have two-year-olds. I got a picture of my 7-week-old nephew in a Steelers jersey and showed him off to everyone. I watched the “Isaac & Ishmael” episode of The West Wing. I did a little work.
And what I keep coming back to is watching my friends’ kids, and my nephew, whose entire lives will be lived in a post-9/11 world, and what else they might see. This is, I imagine, something every generation feels as they watch a new one being born. And so I am glad that what I do is help to give these children stories. Because we need stories to survive. Stories about first days of school, and friends, and families, and losing a first tooth. Stories about fear and courage, loyalty, and discovering who we are. Stories that show us experiences different from our own and ideas that widen our perceptions. Stories that show us we aren’t alone.
As Josh said in the West Wing episode (and come on, who could say anything better than Josh Lyman/Aaron Sorkin?): “Learn things, be good to each other. Read the newspapers, go to the movies, go to a party, read a book. In the meantime, remember pluralism. You want to get these people? You really want to reach in and kill them where they live? Keep accepting more than one idea.”
I think as long as we have stories and each other, we’re going to be okay.