Do you remember where you were on September 11th, 2001?

I do. I have a personal story of 911. I have my own narrative of how I participated in that moment in history.

I was in Ann Arbor, walking down South State street. In the air, beneath the warm confident blue sky, a whisper of the dry Midwest cold to come. 

I have memories of trying to get onto cnn.com to follow the news but to no avail, as the entire internet came to a halt. I have memories of feeling confused, scared, hoarding bottled water. I have memories of waking up and hanging on to the fleeting pleasure from the thought “oh that was just a bad dream.”

20 years later, I now understand that, more likely than not, our memories are altered and fuzzy. 

I now understand that, more likely than not, it is our memories of events that are incomplete, rather than history itself being fraught with conspiracies.

We ought to recognise that for the first time in the 300,000 years of the evolution of our species, instead of making sense of the world through the wisdom of elders of our tribes, we are burdened with the task of discerning truths from the endless amount facts from all corners of the World Wide Web. 

We have substituted our tribes with Facebook Groups. We look to our jobs and the companies we worked for, instead of our churches and families, to define our community, passion, and life purpose.  

We need to remember that we are all capable of falling for theories that bring comfort. We must remember that we now co-exist in a world where we have coworkers and family members who believe politicians are lizards, the same coworkers and family members who also find anti-vaxxers preposterous. 

We ought to be less rigid with our beliefs and more loose with others’ convictions. We must understand that even for those who believe the world is flat, they too have their narratives and personal stories of how they are participating in history.

20 years later, I now understand that, more critically than ever, that we must not give ourselves excuses to not engage. 

We must choose to participate. 

We must aim to improve. 

We must choose to lead- the art of clarification, facilitation, and mutual empowerment. 

We must choose forward, onward. 

Even though the world has become more messed up since September 11th, 2001, especially when the world has become more messed up since September 11th, 2001.

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