I’d intended to write my own reflections on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Instead I found myself caught up editing other people’s far more articulate words, and emotionally exhausted from reading so many personal stories. My story isn’t unique or even compelling — I was a senior in college, working at campus police on that Tuesday morning. I spent the rest of the day in classrooms, my friends’ dorm rooms and in my own living room with my roommates, but I mostly spent that day surrounded by people when what I wanted was to be alone.
For the past ten years, I’ve avoided watching the images of 9/11, though they remain vivid in my mind. I personally gain nothing from repeated viewing of the second plane hitting the building while a stunned nation watched or clicking through digital albums of horrified onlookers frozen in time.
Earlier today I tweeted, “I care less about where people were ten years ago and more about who they’ve become since. Geography is context; show me content.” I was challenged both publicly and privately on the belief, but I stand firm in believing that what came next is more important than where I was.
So to answer my own challenge, here’s my content:
Over the past ten years, I’ve become more aware of issues related to social justice and globalism. Always an avid consumer of the news, I’ve become a better consumer of international news than I was before, even as a journalism student. I believe in the power of risk management and emergency preparedness on college campuses. I am a better member of my community because I pay more attention to what’s happened around me. I’ve forced myself to challenge my own beliefs of other cultures, including extremist beliefs, and learn more about them. I give more respect to my mind’s signals that I need to be alone to process a situation. I am more open to changing as a result of external influences.
What’s your content? Don’t tell me where you were — tell me how you’ve changed and who you’ve become since.