We appreciate life more since September 11, 2001. We survived it; we helped, and found lots of humanity in the middle of tragedy. We absorbed it and grew into better people. Then we moved on, because at that point New York was home, and “the show must go on.” We love the Big Apple with its many challenges and magical moments because it reminded “us” that more than nationalities we are “simply” human no matter what and wherever we go.
#Us humans in two tweets and more:
• #Us is the joy of human collaboration in communities free from the boundaries of prejudice. Optimism.
• #Us and “them” represent the stubborn limitation of seeing too much otherness in others. War.
• Today, “expats” or not, we are New York, and Washington DC. We mediate for unity and respect.
We like thinking there is eternity above and world history below. While we only know the latter is true, our sentiment is about hoping to become the bridge to both plains. Philosophizing on rooftops among friends while watching the sunset behind the World Trade Center, unknowingly in its last evening, made this loss more meaningful even. The WTC represented many things for day-to-day living. For many of us it was our default way to get our bearings after exiting a train station: Downtown? Uptown? Across town?
In the aftermath some of us gave hugs to perfect strangers who we found crying in the streets. We volunteered for many community activities and donated more than we could. Some of us lost our jobs downtown. We appreciate the government picking up our rent for a couple of months. Life reminded us about the U.S. and its complexities. The historic tragedy changed the planet marking the beginning of an era. It was a reminder of our contradicting dualities as a nation: our constant switch between tolerance and ethnocentrism. Interestingly enough in textual language the Twitter hash tag #us equals #US. It makes for a metaphor of that duality. It reminds us that we share public space in a multicultural and experimental society.
“America” may be more idea than nation to some. The #US is a place where the two twits at the top are put into play every single day, in thought, intention, action, theory and practice. We remember challenging days through the prisms of optimism and war. At this very minute 267 new members of our species are being born and 108 are dying.* We listen to ourselves breathing to make a pause between words, thought, and reaction. We produce a wave of peace strong enough to transmit calm as we connect with others. Then we whisper: home is where we make it.
Appreciating life in Dallas
former New Yorker 2001-2009
*According to the Population Reference Bureau’s “2010 World Population Data Sheet”