We'd like to share our love, support, and sympathy with all of the victims,
direct and indirect, of the September 11th, 2001,
attacks on Washington and New York.

  

   header art from Enchanted Backgrounds
music by Jon Bon Jovi, offered as a free download on his site

Let freedom reign.
The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.

Nelson Mandela

  

When freedom does not have a purpose, 
when it does not wish to know anything 
about the rule of law engraved 
in the hearts of men and women, 
when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, 
it turns against humanity and society.

Pope John Paul III

 

 

Germany

  
   

We human beings are capable
of greater nobility than other species, but we are also
potentially much more vicious.
No other animal can be persuaded
to fear and to hate multitudes
of its own kind whom he or she
has never seen.

Benjamin P. Spock

 

Sweden

The Philippines

  

 
We'd like to thank those people who gave so much that day and in the days after -- 
many of whom gave their lives -- in the effort to help others to survive: 
the firefighters, the police, the rescue workers, the passengers on the jets,
and the many people who performed so many ever-unknown acts of heroism, kindness, and love.

We'd like to thank the members of the international community who expressed their deep,
sincere sympathy and empathy over this act that took so much away from us.

We'd like to thank our forebears in America, who passed on to us their spirit, their resolve,
their resilience, and their desire to do what's right, all of which have helped us to deal with these tragedies.

We're thankful that for whatever the reason, the death toll from these attacks
is nowhere near as high as it easily could have been.

To the many thousand of people who helped to raise funds for the victims,
who have counseled and helped and prayed for the victims and their families and friends, thank you.

  

  
There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity,
the freedom of humans and mind, is nothing but a dream.
They are right.  It is the American dream.


Archibald MacLeish
  
America did not invent human rights.  In a very real sense,
it is the other way around.
Human rights invented America.

Jimmy Carter

  

Democracy is not a mathematical deduction proved once and for all time.
Democracy is a just faith fervently held, a commitment to be tested
again and again in the fiery furnace of history.

Jack Kemp

 

We are not bitter, not because we have forgiven
but because there is so much to be done
that we cannot afford to waste
valuable time and resources on anger.

Govan Mbeki
(Johannesburg, South Africa)

  

 

    

An excerpt from an account by Tony (read the full account here):

It is at this point where I am starting to feel fear. What happened to WTC #1? Was that an explosion triggered by the first hit to #2? Was that a bomb? I never saw the plane, just the fireball. Then, the news repeats the captured footage of the plane actually hitting the building. We are STILL in disbelief, trying to make some sense of something so completely unfathomable.

"This cannot be a terrorist attack. This makes no sense. Why? Who? What?"

Then as we are listening to a woman give an account of what she saw, we see what looks like another explosion, as she begins screaming "O MY GOD! OH MY GOD." In the office, it feels like our building just blew up, the whole thing shakes. What was that? Was it an explosion? Another plane? A bomb?

It is only as we make our way down the stairs and into the street, that I hear "The first one's gone down!" We run toward the South Seaport, hoping the tower was not still falling, and falling our way. Tripping, falling, we can see nothing but the inches of white soot on the ground. We run.

Then, in probably the most fearful moment of all yesterday, we hear what sounds like an incoming jet. Are we under attack? Is that another jet? Are we at war? We run into the Mayor's building to avoid any more falling debris, and because indoors feels safer than outdoors at this point.

I am shaking. Where is Amanda?

I am overcome by the feeling I used to have as a small child when we would gather in the center of the house during a tornado, knowing that there was not a damn thing we could do but sit, play victim and pray we survived. It is not the kind of feeling one easily forgets.

As we are indoors, the smoke begins to clear, and the sun peers through. I cannot get my cell phone to work. Then we feel the second tower come down. We see the second plume pour through the spaces between the buildings. More soot-covered people come in, saying "both of the towers are gone!". Again, a thick cloud of smoke leaves us in the dark on what began as a clear day. . . .

 

Judaism teaches that those who commit terrible deeds are not monsters.
They are human beings who have done monstrous things.
If they truly were beasts, they would be blameless.
They are human and responsible because they have betrayed their humanness.

David J. Wolpe

 

Egypt

 

 

Russia
 
When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up
we would no longer be vulnerable.  But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. . . . 
To be alive is to be vulnerable.

Madeleine L'Engle

 

Denmark 

 

I don't think of all the misery
but of the beauty that still remains.

Anne Frank

Although the world is full of suffering,
it is also full of the overcoming of it.

Helen Keller

 

That some good can be derived from every event
is a better proposition than that everything happens for the best,
which it assuredly does not.

James K. Feibleman

 

 

May God bless
each of us and help
us to deal with
these tragic events
in the way that's
best for us. . . .

   

I also see the world of religion. I see some of my brothers and sisters
trying to be religious without being fully human.  They seem a little rigid
and narrow at times, wanting to be holy, but not human.  They seem
to be winning a place in heaven, without realizing or enjoying
the beauty of earth.  They keep the rules, but their
observances look so joyless.  Such a world seems small
and the air in that world is stale.

John Powell, S.J.

  

 

Photo by Butch Huntley.

 

Beyond September 11th - Footprints on the Sands of Time
Gail Pursell Elliott

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold:
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

-- written by the poet William Butler Yeats in 1920.

The events of September 11th left all of us changed in some way.  We are encouraged to get back to business as usual.  Depending on your perspective, that’s not necessarily desirable.

Over the past 30 years I’ve watched the world change, as I’m sure you have.  People often treat each other more as objects and opportunities rather than as fellow human beings, worthy and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect as individuals. 

So perhaps getting back to basics rather than business as usual is what we really want to do.  By back to basics I really mean back to the beginning.  To our ‘ceremony of innocence,’ the beginning of experience for each of us, when we were very young.  What were our wants, hopes, needs, dreams, and desires at that time?  The common denominator, despite the diversity of our individual expression, was to leave our footprints on the sands of time, the evidence that we were here.  To do something that mattered and left an impact however small. 

In the aftermath of the tragedy, this type of evidence was what moved and inspired us.  Police and firefighters running toward the building and into danger to try to rescue others.  People extending themselves to help each other.  The outpouring of financial help.  Three hour lines to give blood that people stood in cheerfully.  None of us would choose to stand in a three hour line cheerfully unless we felt what we were doing was of significance on a deep level. 

This sense of significance is what motivates each of us most of all.   This point was validated and especially driven home to me by an interview with a construction worker who has been working clearing the debris at ground zero.  He said that he got up every morning anxious to go to work.  The job he is doing must seem ghastly to many of us.  But this man said to please not misunderstand him, but that this was the best job he ever had.  Every morning he thinks that perhaps today they will find another person in the rubble and will be able to give that family the gift of closure.  To him, nothing he had ever done before seemed so important.  He is leaving his footprints on the sands of time.

Some of the ways ‘business as usual’ has been conducted over the years has succeeded in blocking the ability of people to experience a true sense of significance. When we lack that sense of significance, when we feel what we do doesn’t matter, when we lose sight of the awareness of leaving our footprints on the sands of time, that is when we lack energy, focus, enthusiasm, and cease to care about our quality of work.  We stop paying attention to the needs of others because our basic, unconscious, human need for significance is not met.  Under these circumstances, people may treat others more as objects and opportunities.  

Connecting with our own sense of significance causes us to look at our immediate environment, our relationships, and our work with a new view.   September 11th allowed many of us the opportunity to rediscover what we value.  Our personal dignity emerges when we define ourselves in terms of the inner qualities we value. When we remind ourselves of our unique qualities, the wonder of being an individual, and the unlimited possibilities each new day holds.  It is a ‘ceremony of innocence.’  A back to basics exercise in personal dignity and respect that frees us to once again believe that we can leave our footprints on the sands of time. 


Speaker, Author, Educator, Human Resources and Training Consultant, Gail Pursell Elliott is president and founder of Innovations "Training With A Can-Do Attitude"TM - Promoting Dignity and Respect, No Exceptions, in companies and communities nationwide. 
To receive Food For Thought messages via email join the website mailing list at  www.innovations-training.com
For permission to reprint in a newsletter or publication, contact Gail at info@innovations-training.com

  

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