Community Unity In the Wake of 9/11

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”~Matthew 22:37-40  

I had my stress-fractured ankle propped up on the desk in front of me on the desk I was using.  I was in that position because a few days before I stepped off too soon and skipped the bottom 3 stairs and landed hard on my left foot.  The stress from my 449-pound body was too much for my ankle to support with that much weight coming down on it and so the stress fracture happened.  This occurred at work and so it was a Workman’s Comp injury.  I was fortunate enough to get some light duty while I healed in the boot they gave me to support my ankle.  I was sitting at that desk with my leg propped up and the news came in the third hour of my workday that the North Tower of the World Trade Center had a plane crash into it.  I was shocked and mortified that something like that would even happen.  I just thought at that moment that it was a freak accident.  Then about 8:15am I hear the news that the South tower was hit by another plane, then I realized that it was not a freak accident, but a terrorist attack.  The events that transpired since that heinous event are some great stories of heroic acts of kindness that saved lives, but also sacrificed many lives to save lives.  It was inspiring to see both Republicans and Democrats come together and sing God Bless America.  To see people and first responders from all across America to come to the site of the attack and help as much as they could to find people that may be trapped under the debris of the building collapse.  It was inspiring to see New York City a city where they are not known for their friendliness come together as one community to help each other out.  What disturbs me is this did not last for long.

Let’s fast forward to this morning, 7:30 am central time 9-11-2014.  The rain began around 5 am and came down in a continuous deluge.  I’m fortunate that my house sits on the crest of a hill, but my neighbors houses at the bottom of the hill are not so fortunate.  I didn’t realize how bad the flooding was on my street until my wife came back and told me that the middle of the street was flooded.  If this were 13 years ago, I would have not even considered going out in waste deep water to check up on my neighbors in the middle of the street.  My shame today is that I have lived here for 16 years and have not taken the time even to know these people, who by the way are very friendly.  A couple of these houses were filled with water; I went to four different houses to check up on my neighbors.  I gave my phone number to them all too late to even help them today, but in the future, they can move their cars to my driveway to get out of the water.  What is sad is it takes a crisis to unite us as a community.  I want to in no way compare what I went through today to what happened 13 years ago.  I just want to honor those that lived and died through that tragedy 13 years ago today.  I think one of the best things that came out of it was that sense of community and loving your neighbor that emerged from that crisis of major proportion.  Today was a personal revelation to me to be aware of whom my neighbor is and get to know them.  Of all of them, they lost four cars today and two houses were flooded.  Had I taken the time to know them, I would have had them move their cars to my driveway at least alleviate some of the stress of the damage they experienced.  If we take the time to get to know them, we can become their angel and they can become our angel in the time of need.

I would like to suggest to you today, if you don’t know your neighbor, be so bold as to find out who they are and strike up a conversation.  Don’t wait like I did when something bad happens, get to know them now.  Keep your neighbors close to you; you may never know when you will need them.  As Jesus said in the above quote, love your neighbor as yourself.  Your neighbor is not just those that live on your block or around your apartment, but those that are in your path every day.  A random smile here a happy hello there shows that you are friendly and that you are a person that cares.  If we can keep this second command as Jesus pointed out above, then we are doing a great job of keeping the first command, which is to love God.  If we love God’s creation, we show that we love Him.  Love your neighbor; don’t look at the bad stuff that they do, just love them like Jesus.  If it starts with you then maybe we can find some kind of community unity that didn’t last like it should have after the attack on September 11th, 2001.

© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.

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