Monday, September 11, 2023

Moving beyond 9/11

  I’ve become increasingly ambivalent about the way we commemorate the dark days and months that began on September 11th, 2001.

  Each year the memories and all the feelings they evoke are less vivid. Thus, the news articles, commentaries, and TV specials about the 9/11 attacks serve as important reminders, not only of the immeasurable loss of life and the permanent degradation of our sense of security, but of the lessons we should have learned from the events and its aftermath.

  Of course, it’s important and appropriate that we pause to honor with reverence and gratitude the lives lost and mangled and the noble efforts of those who struggled mightily to rescue them.

  And we must never lose sight of the lesson that life is so fragile. We’re all vulnerable, not merely to terrorism, but to all sorts of sudden external forces, from car collisions to cancer. This reminder should not make us fearful or insecure; rather, it should inspire gratitude for every precious moment of life.

  We should also be reminded that 9/11 brought out the best in us — compassion, empathy, charity, and a sense of unity.

  In another week, however, I suspect our memories and feelings about this catastrophe will, once again, become more muted and less painful. That’s how it should be.

  Life-changing tragic events dot the lives of all of us — the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage, the loss of a home or business. How we cope with these calamities often determines the quality of our lives.

  We must not be imprisoned by anxiety or grief by events like 9/11. It’s not healthy or helpful to repeatedly re-experience the pain of old wounds. Self-inflicted suffering is pointless and damaging.

  We shouldn’t forget what happened, but we are entitled to live happy lives, and that requires us to let go of the grief of terrible times and move on.

  Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Capital City Free Press on September 11, 2016.

  About the author: Michael Josephson is one of the nation’s most sought-after and quoted ethicists. Founder and president of Josephson Institute and its CHARACTER COUNTS! project, he has conducted programs for more than 100,000 leaders in government, business, education, sports, law enforcement, journalism, law, and the military. Josephson is also an award-winning radio commentator.

  This article was published by the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

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