Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Moment of Silence

I was talking to my husband this morning on the phone when he said, "Did you have your moment of silence?" Me: I've been at the grade school, I don't think they have moment of silences within 10 blocks of it- where would I find it? Him: That's what they said on the news, for everyone to take a moment of silence today.

What was interesting was when he told me that, the idea of taking a moment of silence actually irritated me a little. Not because I believe I am too good or too busy to morn for strangers or that 7 years has passed and I am ready to forget, but because that one day in history, that one act by no more than 20 men with boxcutters has resulted in the deaths of thousands of others in the world due to our choices as a country. I'm angry for how we responded and I'm sad for what happened, what's still happening.

My husband is a firefighter. New York lost more firefighters that day than any other department has ever lost in a moment. People who were just going to work to make a living and keep a family, also gone. So I will find silence for them, but also for the 100,000 + of Iraqi citizens who have been killed in our war, and the children who were innocently born in the wrong place, wrong time--they shouldn't have to live through this.

And 16 years ago this week, my father died a quiet lesser-known death, but the tragedy of that still stays with me, still comes out in my poems. So a moment of silence for him and for poet Reginald Shepherd, who died last evening.

Maybe we should have silence for the Father of all Bombs, tested last year by Russia on this day, and when I say silence what I really mean is speech. We should continue to speak out for what we don't believe in as well as for what we do. We should have not fathers of all bombs, but children of all peace.

And maybe when the news media said we should have a moment of silence what they should have said is we should never hold our tongues when it comes to what's important, when it comes to peace, compassion, kindness, for understanding there will be individuals who will do bad things, but we must never mistake their mistakes for another's mistake and hurt an entire group of people. As countries or individuals, we must make our choices from compassion and not fear. And yes, I think I've come to realize that while it's good to take a moment of silence to remember or to reflect, it's also important to take time to speak.


  1. Your post reminded me of Rethabile's 9/11 post from last year:

    Hope you and your family are well.

  2. J--

    Thanks for the link! I just read it and we were really coming from the same place.

    Appreciate your note.


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