“The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic, and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom”.
Today was definitely a day of reflection, prayer, and of giving thanks. I thought a great deal about the people whose lives were changed forever on this day 12 years ago. I took a few moments after dropping the kids at school today and just sat in my car praying for their families, praying for all of our families all over the world and doing some long, hard thinking about peace and what that really means. The state of the world today and what that means for our future.
I am not sure that peace will ever exist; that is my brutal honest gut-wrenching belief, but what I know after much contemplation today is that I do believe that working together, we can build a world so full of hope and kindness that the light from that will burn much brighter than any darkness that remains. I truly believe that 12 years ago many of us around the world who hadn’t already turned toward making this world a better place, decided to dedicate ourselves to that exact cause.
The memorial at Ground Zero is breathtaking even in photos (I have yet to see it live) and what I see is hope and rebirth.
I am switching gears a bit here, so bear with me…
I sat with a woman today at my daughter’s gymnastics class and I knew she needed to tell her story, to be heard. She talked a bit about how she is raising 2 of her grandchildren. How doing this a second time around is easier because of experience, more patience, and that she doesn’t take things as seriously as she did as a parent.
One thing she said struck me, she said, “It doesn’t really matter what we teach our children, they don’t listen to us anyway, they really go off and do whatever it is they are going to do anyway. My husband and I had little effect on who our children became.” This hit me like the saying, “It is what it is” which I absolutely dislike with a passion.
Here is why; I believe it is what we make it. Nothing just is. I whole-hardheartedly disagree that we have little impact on our children. I am witnessing first hand how my shift in Random Acts of Kindness and my participation in the 21 Day Kindness Challenge (http://www.kindspring.org/21day/) is having an impact on my children.
My oldest two children who fight and have a special talent for making each other miserable, have over the past week done more kind things for each other than I have ever witnessed before.
Today as we were driving I asked if they had done anything kind today and this is what I heard back…
My daughter relayed a story about how she was playing a dodge ball game at school and when she tried to yell at her friend to move the ball was coming, but her friend did not hear her. So my daughter jumped in front of the ball and got out so that her friend could stay in the game.
My son, noticing some kids who were talking during a lesson had gotten behind; turned and helped them catch up. He said, “I know they weren’t paying attention, but I was able to help them and they stopped distracting the class once I helped them.”
Later while picking up dinner, we were waiting to have our order called out and there was only one chair left in the waiting area so my son sat down. He looked up to see his sister standing there, tired and a bit deflated that he had taken the seat. Promptly he stood and offered her his chair.
Earlier in the day, as I was coming down the stairs to see my daughter clearing away a couple dishes that had been left on the table the night before (yep, dishes still left on the table from the night before – but the good part about that means my children were fed) – and she notices my look of surprise and says, “Mom you shouldn’t have to pick this up.”
You might think I have digressed far off the topic of Patriot Day, but in fact I have not. Despite what the world might throw at us; despite what things may set us back; or even catastrophically rip us from our foundation – we can still change the world.
Or we can simply leave well enough alone and believe it is what it is. Or we can choose to forge ahead believing that it is what we make it; and we can build a world so full of hope and kindness that we can make the darkness seem less bleak.
We honor those that have lost their lives, lost loved ones, or those that risk their lives to protect our freedom every day by helping them make this world a better place. It might be that we remember to hold doors open, we check on sick neighbors, we remember to say please and thank you, we practice compassion, we show up for our loved ones, we give up our seats, maybe we send unexpected gifts, drop off flowers, call to tell someone how special they are, send letters to our soldiers abroad, take food to a troop’s family, or you can just simply listen and let another person be heard so they know that there are still people in the world who care. No act of kindness is too small or insignificant; we do impact others greatly with our actions; it is a choice; and I choose kindness; I choose love wins, I choose hope.
“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives: Be kind anyway.
If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies: Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank people will try to cheat you: Be honest anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight: Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous of you: Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten by tomorrow: Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough: Give your best anyway.”
― Mother Teresa