What 9/11 should have taught us

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Shock, heartbreak, fury and hate-filled desire for revenge are about to be revisited.

On Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that paralyzed America, those of us who were around back then will once again experience those emotions that may have gone dormant but never completely disappeared. We can dwell on those feelings Tuesday, or we can do something else. We can reflect on the ashes of othersí treachery and our vulnerability and then consider how far weíve come since then.

In one way, the disaster of 9/11 did something magnificent: It united the states. We werenít Democrats or Republicans. We werenít white or black or Hispanic. We werenít old or young, rich or poor, North or South, brilliant or stupid. We were Americans, and for a time, we pulled together. We leaned on one another, propped each other up, dispensed hugs and accepted them gratefully. Thatís something the terrorists, who had no idea their attack would be so crippling, never counted on.

Perhaps the enduring tragedy is that we seemingly need something horrific to happen before weíll pull together. Extreme pressure from the outside forces us, somehow, into a concentrated, unified team. But it never lasts.

As we again honor the many dead and injured on 9/11/01 and vow never to forget, as we recall the magnificent acts of heroism perpetrated at the height of horror and its aftermath, letís look ahead to another kind of challenge.

Letís see if we can pull together without a fuse lit by tragedy.

Letís attempt to focus more on the many positives in todayís America and build on that.

These are good days that could be even better with greater teamwork, with more consideration and human kindness.

If we need tragedy to unite us, more shock, heartbreak and hatred eagerly await.

We can and must do better than that.

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