Of Tears and Laughter on September 11

The twentieth anniversary of September 11 was always going to be hard. No one who was alive in 2001 can forget the terrible sight of aircraft crashing into the twin towers, nor what followed after. Seeing people crammed onto window ledges or deliberately leaping from them to certain death brought home to us the intensity of the hatred that inspired such hideous acts. Today, in Afghanistan, the story is still not ended and we are as helpless as we were twenty years ago. People suffer, are maimed for life, die. We pray for peace, for the healing of wounds, but with a kind of reluctant half-belief. It is the best we can do. At least our prayer is real, we say. Tears express what we cannot put into words and today they will flow freely, not just in the U.S.A. but also in the 78 countries whose citizens died in the attack on the World Trade Centre and the aircraft brought down near the Pentagon.

If that were all there were to say, it would be to acknowledge the triumph of death and destruction over life and hope, and I’m not sure that we should. There is another image, also from New York, I would like to put before you*: a young girl laughing with astonishment and delight at finding herself in the finals of the U.S. Open. Whether she wins or loses tonight’s match is irrelevant. Emma Raducano has not only demonstrated that she is a very fine tennis-player but also that enjoyment — being filled with joy — is not dependent on success as such. She has clearly enjoyed playing in New York, and those armchair critics who were so dismissive of her when she showed nerves at Wimbledon might like to reconsider their earlier verdict. Life is not all about winning, though it must be nice when one does. The greatest prize is life itself— one we all share and should cherish.

*For copyright reasons, I can’t post a photo of Emma Raducano and her huge smile here.

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4 thoughts on “Of Tears and Laughter on September 11”

  1. Such important words. I had not thought to put the twin towers and current fighting together. I was in a hotel in Cancun, at a conference on that day. The place was full of Arabs and Americans who disappeared from sight, as they rushed home. The fear on everyone’s face and in their actions was scary.
    I spent five days in an empty hotel. A strange and emotional experience.
    Thank you again for this.

    Reply
  2. You make an excellent point, Sister. Emma Raducano’s success and delight reminds us all that death and destruction must never be allowed to triumph over life and hope. Personally, I welcome it as a timely reminder not to give in to negativity, having been watching and being influenced by far too much political noise lately. 😉

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  3. The people in the other aeroplane, that came down in Pennsylvania (Flight 93) showed the courage and determination of ordinary people to not let fear and death rule their actions. The bravery that they displayed is hope for a world that lives in fear of the consequences of hatred.

    Reply

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