9/11 thoughts

9-11-2001.  I dropped off my son at daycare and drove to Harrisburg, the PA state capitol city, to get office and church supplies, then meet my husband for lunch.

On the radio I heard that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.  I assumed it was a really stupid mistake of some small aircraft.  Then I heard on the radio that this was no small prop plane– it was a commercial jet.

Then I heard the news that the other tower was hit by another commercial jet, then the Pentagon and Shenksville.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I went ahead with my plans for the day.   However, it wasn’t “business as usual” and “shopping to boost the ec0nomy” for me that day.  I, along with many other US citizens, were thrust into the world of the fight against terror.  I left lunch early that day to pick up my little boy and hold him tight.

6 years earlier in 1995 I lived a couple miles away from the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City when it was bombed.   On April 19, every year, I still have get some anxiety symptoms.  I can’t imagine what people in New York, Washington DC, and Shenksville went– and are still going– through.

My stepson, who was 6 years old, was deeply affected by all the news coverage.   He didn’t live with us then.  If I remember correctly, this is when he became afraid of the sky and began to only play at playgrounds that were indoor or either had lots of trees that blocked the clouds from his view.  He also started wearing hats to shield his view from planes overhead.  ( By the way, the hope in this: he found a way to deal with his fear that was socially acceptable.)

Today in our church service our topic was how to do justice and love our enemies.  How do we do justice in the world without resorting to revenge?  How do we teach our children to do this, too?

I think we parents of special needs kids could be a step ahead of others in this challenge.  I believe it starts with not lumping everyone together in one group, and seeing people as individuals:

  • Not all airplanes are weapons, we explained to our oldest kid.
  • Not all people with autism are non verbal or savants, we explain to others.
  • Not all Christians are right wing extremists, as we can personally attest.
  • Not all Muslims are terrorists.

Our church recently did a series about other religions– our commonalities, our differences, and how to live in community with those of different faiths.  We went into different houses of worship and found that people were very open to talking with us.  Some even let us bring video cameras in so our congregations could see a different faith’s worship space. In the most recent Interpeter, a United Methodist publication, there was a story about United Methodist churches sharing their facilities with local mosques, working with the Muslim neighbors to benefit their communities, and even celebrating Thanksgiving together last year.

One of the pastors blogs about his experience working with the local mosque in his blog.  It’s very interesting reading– I highly recommend it.

I want to be the type of person who can look past my fears and do what needs to be done.  I want to be an example of courage to my children. I want to show them that, just as I want others to see my sons not as “autistic” but as individuals, I will see others as individuals too. My daughter rides the school bus home with a girl who just moved to the neighborhood.  She wears a head covering.  Next time, I will say hello.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. this blog truly made me feel supported in our views, hopes and dreams for our children. we take on the same integrity daily with regard to treating all children equal (no matter their diagnosis), all religions equal (no matter their terrorist/media affiliation), etc. i love how well you articulate these hopes and dreams and especially that you are consciously teaching your children to socially adapt while allowing them to ‘feel’ however they like. thank you for writing this and sharing.

    Reply

  2. Thanks for your comments. I typically don’t write pieces like this, but was so overcome with gratitude when I read the article I mentioned.

    Reply

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