Fourteen years ago today is a horrible memory, one that I wish none of us had to have. We do, though. I was teaching at a public high school and had all seniors on this day in 2001, so I felt no compunction about defying the administration’s command to not watch any of the unfolding events. When I had students who were aware enough to immediately start evaluating the situation in terms of our study of Beowulf and the terrorism inherent therein, then I knew that we would watch what was appropriate.
Many young people have a much closer connection to their hearts, in general, about the most basic things in life. Unfortunately, some learn at much younger ages to be influenced by the egos of older people and feel forced to deny their hearts and “believe” a certain way. I will never forget on that fateful day of September 11, 2001, when the news was breaking and my seniors and I were watching the events unfold, one of my girls, Andrea, started sobbing, the tears streaming down her face, “Why can’t we all just get along? Why do we have to hurt one another?” I saw her, and that was not a cry of triteness or for public display or in defiance; it was an honest cry from an honest heart.
And when it comes down to it, I believe those are two questions that we need to answer. I think that the American Declaration of Independence addresses such basic issues with words that are simple enough. Please, read them, and just take them at face value, because I believe that at the time they were penned, whatever, wherever they emanated from, there was a purity of expression: “…that all men are created equal…we are endowed with certain unalienable rights…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Whenever something like 9/11 happens, some people feel that these basic tenets have been abrogated for them. However, if one listens to the heart, then the response will not be one of hatred and destruction. If it is, then the response has not been honest and represents an affront to self and to others. At that point, those who have been affronted must be in touch with their own hearts to know the appropriate response.
Argue with Andrea, my student, whose heart was broken over people who she did not know on both sides. Yes, argue with her about the issues of economics and slavery and political machinations and interfering in the nations and causes of others without understanding them. It would not have mattered to her that day because she was at a much deeper level than all of those arguments.
In the weeks that followed, I saw and heard students who had closed their mind to the urgings of their hearts. True hearts don’t urge destruction and death and spout threats. I had to take disciplinary action against students in one class in particular because I had an Iranian girl, a Muslim, in class who was not only trying to decipher English but also decipher hatred being thrown at her about being a “towel head.” Fortunately, this only involved a few students, but it was obvious to me that they were hearing such at home, giving control to their egos, and not heeding their honest hearts.
Therefore, I ask some questions: Where else does this apply? What about other issues? How do we respond to political, racial, and social problems today? But what about those trying to kill us? What about terrorists? What about anti-terrorists? Which side of the line are you standing on when terrorism is defined? If any of us truly knows where we’ve been and have a dream of where we want to end up, we better quit listening to rationalizations and hatred and flimsy justifications—all from ego—and start listening to our hearts. More and more people today are feeling this, but too many others are intensifying hatred. Sometimes those listening to their hearts just need to take joy in one another, make their voices heard in accord with their hearts, and let the chips fall where they may. Why can’t we all just get along? Why do we have to hurt one another? I don’t know, Andrea. I still don’t really know why we can't listen to the gentle, loving, powerful voice of our own hearts.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!