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September 1, 2011

The Babies of 9/11 Are 10

Patricia A. Kelly

Born after their dads died on September 11, 2001, their photos etched into the brains of millions, they are now 10 years old. What is their world?


They were the first recipients of direct government payments to survivors of catastrophe. One could have wondered, what about wounded veterans, or survivors of those who die in combat, or coal miners' families; but that was a long time ago now, and just one more example of the growth of government as the mother and father of all.


In some ways, these children live in a more aware society, a society more conscious that life is fleeting, that America is vulnerable, that one should say thank you to the bus driver, a world where increased unity and increased gratitude for the freedoms offered in America are appreciated more than ever.


On the other hand they live in a world more filled with rage and hatred than ever before. People hate Muslims, confusing them all with radical terrorists. People hate illegal immigrants, those fiends who are robbing taxpayers by sneaking in, getting welfare, free medical care and schooling.


Some hate the government, which is so wasteful and so partisan that it can never come up with reasonable solutions for anything from how much to sped, to what to do to solve the many problems our nation faces.


Some hate flash mobs, people with their pants hanging down so low their underwear shows, or gay people who want to destroy the institution of marriage.


Some hate the radical, wacko Tea Party people, or the flaming, self righteous "liberals" who want to make more rules to infringe on our lives and give money to people who haven't earned it.


We hate stupid drivers, and criminals, especially pedophiles, those people we keep looking over our shoulders for whenever we're out with our children.


They're lurking everywhere, waiting to steal and brutalize.


It's a wonder we can sleep at night. Thank goodness for antacids and tranquilizers.


What would it take for things to be different? What would it take to have peace, tolerance, and respect in the world instead of hatred? Are we capable of doing better?


The 10th anniversary of the September 11 attack might be a good time to consider these questions.


We all look at the world through a filter. The filter, like colored glasses, begins to develop in childhood, inspired by everything from religious teaching to parental modeling, to life experience. Did a Muslim kid spit on you in school? Did your grandmother tell you that people who aren't saved in a specific way can't go to Heaven?


What if you could remove that filter for a minute and look at things and people with an open mind?


Would you get that black, brown, yellow and beige people all have the same parts? That all people of genuine faith believe just as strongly and sincerely as you? That all mothers want what is best for their babies? That no one, unfiltered and sane, would want to kill someone?


If you went to Egypt, made eye contact with a street vendor and said hello, your personal space would soon be violated as he came forward attempting to sell you something. Tour guide recommendations are not to make eye contact or speak. Wonder what would happen if you greeted him with "God be with you," spoken in his language.


How do we move toward a better world, maybe even peace, within and without, as this 10th anniversary of September 11 approaches?


One friend said, "One person at a time." Another said she is taking a stand for every interpersonal communication in the world to be compassionate and caring. One seems much bigger than the other, but both start with one person. One person is really all we have.


What if we redefined some things as we look at this anniversary and at the future course of our government?


Both Republican and Democrat, in the dictionary, actually refer to the same thing, a form of government that is controlled by the governed. Again, in the dictionary, conservative implies staying the same, and liberal implies progressive thought, personal freedom and generosity.


In our present government, both conservatives and liberals appear interested in curbing personal freedoms. Conservatives, except for what some of them consider moral imperatives, seem to want government downsized, and liberals want it to grow to meet all the needs of society, and, inevitably, to regulate us more.


Perhaps there could be a new liberalism. Take the best of the past, and build on it. Change is inevitable, so turn it into progress. Leave behind slavery, discriminatory practices, abandonment of the helpless, unfunded federal mandates, and move to a place of reason and care. Be that all people have the right to live as they wish, if they take responsibility for it, take any consequences and resist any urge to violate the rights of others to live as they wish.


Some examples: Worship as you wish. Let God decide who goes to Heaven in the end.


If you want to have sex with any adult volunteer, go ahead. Just don't make it public and risk offending me.


Wear anything you want, but consider others' sensibilities before you go outside.


State your beliefs politely and respectfully.


They're just examples, of course, but respectful listening, genuine acceptance of others as beings of equal value, consideration of others' sensibilities, cultures or religions could be an important step in the right direction.


Onward to peace, redefined liberals.


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