Beyond Anger: A Lesson of 9/11

The 9/11 anniversary and New York's Islamic community center debate have deep personal meaning for guest contributor Nikki Stern:

A couple of weeks after my husband died on September 11, 2001, I went with a friend to the assistance center at Pier 94 in Manhattan.

I was looking for help, or answers, or maybe some elusive form of consolation - I don't know. I was grief-stricken and I was angry. At one point, I drop-kicked a chair halfway across the room.

My friend grabbed my arm and whispered urgently, "Grief is for here; anger is for home."

That's not bad advice, especially when dealing with public events in which you play only a tiny part.

But anger is very public in our post-9/11 times. Take the rage over the planned mosque near Ground Zero: Some people consider it to be an insult to those who died at the site. I don't.

Frankly, I welcome anything that proposes to advance the cause of peace and understanding.

That doesn't make me naive, folks; it makes me sick and tired of the anger.

These days, we seem to be ticked off about everything. We yell at each other, we yell at our leaders, we trade in suspicion. We've got plenty of opportunities to vent, and we do. Everybody's a critic, everyone has an opinion - we're right, they're wrong, end of discussion.

Underneath the anger is fear, plain and simple.

I know, times are hard. But, really? Is this where the pain of 9/11 has led us - not to coming together, but to pulling further apart?

I can't accept that.

There was grief and anger after 9/11, but also an amazing outpouring of support that took us past death to life, past despair to possibility.

Next year, besides reading the names of the dead and marking the times the planes crashed and we all lost so much, maybe we can resurrect the feeling of unity that saved us then, and will save us again.

Maybe, by the 10th anniversary, we can channel our grief into common purpose and leave our anger where it belongs - at home.

For more info:
"Because I Say So: The Dangerous Appeal of Moral Authority" by Nikki Stern (Bascom Hill)