Pentecost 103


Today is September 11th.  It is a day that, to quote President Franklin D Roosevelt speaking about a day in the early 1940’s, “will live on in infamy.  It is the anniversary of the attacks on the two identical towers that comprised what was called the World Trade Center in New York City.  It was an attack on citizens of the world because not just Americans were killed but many nationalities.  It was a day in which honor was lived in both misguided and wonderful presence.


Honor is an interesting word, one that illustrates how culture and time can define a word.  In the 1600’s ACE, the word “honor” meant a particular gift of great value or a legion of the highest ability.  Visiting dignitaries were often bestowed with something of great honor that was significant to the area being visited, such as the key to the city.  Soldiers strived to become part of an “honor platoon” which often would be chosen to guard such a dignitary or perhaps the ruler.


Also in the 1600’s the word was associated with women and female purity.  One seldom hears male purity being discussed.  Even the celibacy of Roman Catholic priests and other spiritual leaders is encouraged as a way to staying focused, not for purity reasons.  The term “honor” was connected with a chaste woman and so it is no surprise that it soon came to be defined as respectable.


The word, however, dates back four hundred years.  Spelled “oner” it was a word used to signify welcome or present in the 140’’s ACE.  However, in the 1200’s we have the original meaning of the word, “onor” – dignity.  Today there are at least eight definitions of the word, Honor, the “h” being added by the French sometime before its use by William Shakespeare.  Use in the 1200’s to mean respect, it is easy to see the connection to dignity.


Today in many places, homes, and nations, there will be remembrances for those who perished during the flying of two airplanes into the World Trade Towers and also the flying of an airplane into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and into a field in western Pennsylvania.  A group of men claiming falsely to honor Allah undertook four suicide missions and in the process lost all respect for human life and defied the dignity of their supposed religion.  They showed no honor nor faith.  All they showed the world was the loss of intelligent thought and how blindly following evil will lead to destruction and death. 


The names of these lost souls are not the named of dignity to remember.  Those names of honor are the names of the people who lost their living that day and their families and survivors.  All were a part of a family unit at some point in their life.  All were part of the family of man.  None considered themselves a hero to the world but that day they showed us true honor and dignity by living their lives up to the very last second that those lives were taken from them.


We do not honor those dignified citizens of the world, those honorable members of the family of man by hating others.  We best honor them by living to the highest degree possible, by welcoming other members of the family of man, by being present in our living.  We best show them respect by being the best we can be, not by continuing the hatred that led those who perpetrated these crashes down such a horrific journey.


The morning of September 11, 2001 found the children of New York City in school.  Suddenly, however, their world shifted on its axis and the air in the general areas of the World trade Center was filled with the chaotic remnants of construction materials, fires, cries of agony, and metal crashing down.  Pictures drawn by children began appearing around the city and at the other two crash sites.  Robin F. Goodman and Andrea Fahnestock gathered many of these in a book they published entitled “The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11”.


My favorite picture was drawn by Tamara Obradovic who was nine years old at the time.  It shows the two tall twin towers with fire behind them and the flying debris all around them.  Miniscule people, little tiny stick figures are at the bottom of the scene.  The two towers each have one eye drawn on them near the top and from the eyes, red tears fall. 


Matthew Sussman drew a picture of stick figures walking on broken concrete, reaching out to each other.  His figures are of different colors, the colors of the family of man.  He entitled his picture “Coming Together”.  What a glorious way to honor those who died.  What a wonderful way to make the ordinary process of grief something extraordinary.  What a grand way to live honorably.







Pentecost 112

Someone asked what I wanted my readers to do after reading these postings.  Playing on my penchant for things in groups of threes, they asked I limit my answer to just three words.  This is my response:  “Impact your world.” And, if I may, I will give a total of three responses: “Impact your living.”  Impact with Positivity.”

Yesterday I was asked for an opinion.  I have never met the person who was requesting opinions.  We are part of a large group of entrepreneurs and creative people and the group is to encourage an exchange of ideas and to receive feedback in a beta testing sort of way.  Members are from all over the globe and include a diverse field of expertise and businesses.  The likelihood of me ever meeting the person requesting the response is quite small, so minimal that I would say it will never happen.  There is a type of freedom in that and that fact is what guarantees that you will get an honest opinion.

I gave my opinion, the fourth in a series of what ended up being over thirty responses.  At the time I posted my opinion, all of the others were “Great!”; “Good for you!”; “Looks great!”  Mine was couched in positive terms but mentioned a typo (Yes, I can catch them in others’ work; not my own, though!) and some confusing verbiage. Mine was more like a paragraph than a clichéd “Atta boy” response.  Mine was also the only one the owner of the post thanked.  Why?  Because, I think, I took the time to give a complete opinion and explain how the issue had impacted me, whether or not it accomplished its purpose.

The word impact is not often used and yet, we all live it every day.  One seldom visits Greece without visiting the remains of the Greek mythologies and the temples they inspired.  There is even a replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, halfway around the world.  One cannot read a comic book or play a video game without seeing some character based upon ancient mythology.  The impact of these legendary stories may not convert you to a particular belief system or faith but they still have had an impact on you.

From the Latin word “impingere” we have the English word impinge.  The literal translation of “impingere” is “driven in” and is based on an older word which meant to “press firmly or restrict” but a much easier definition of impinge is something that pinches, interrupts, or affects.  It is not surprising that from this same Latin word we also get the noun and the verb “impact”.  As a noun, impact refers to an action of one object making contact, usually forcibly, with another object.  As a verb, it is the action of that forcible contact, the bumping, colliding, altering.

Fourteen years ago the sun was rising just like it seemed to do on any other day.  Dogs barked, stray cats rooted through garbage cans, and somewhere in the alleys of New York City, rats scurried near the docks.  People crowded onto subways, busses, and ferries to begin their commute while others were already at their offices, exchanging greetings at the water cooler, recovering overnight voice mails, and plugging in coffee makers.  Children searched for homework papers to put in their backpacks and morning news programs’ started rolling.  Throughout the city life illustrated the cry of the television directors in control rooms of all the major networks:  “We’re Live!”

Within two hours, the impact of a belief system held hostage by hatred and greed, in direct opposition to the teachings of the religious mythologies which claimed to be their reason, made those words a lie for almost three thousand people, their families, and their rescuers.  A group of men, who spent their last hours not living according to their faith or its rituals but rather engaging in superfluous drinking and gambling, impacted the world.  At a location where the world came to America, at a place so aptly named the World Trade Towers, death overtook life and impacted us all.

On this day fourteen years later, many are still in agony.  New construction is evidence of the need and desire to proclaim “we’re Live!” and beautiful memorials guarantee that those lost will never be forgotten.  The impact of their loss, however, can never be and should never be forgotten.  The delirious rantings and actions of deranged egos impinged the chance of the world to realize the potential of those lives lost.  Our naiveté was impacted by the hatred and loss of humanity when the unthinkable became a reality of death and destruction.

The task ahead for us is to pay honor to those whose lives were taken without letting the actions of the misguided and inhumane group of men impinge our own humanity and beliefs.  Without a choice, we all became victims.  Those who perished were from over eighty countries in the world and all of the world became a target on that day.  However, to really honor those who awoke that day and began to live, we must continue living.  We are lucky we have that choice – whether to remain a victim and live in fear and hatred or to live with compassion, understanding, and humanity towards all.

Violence can beget violence.  The mythologies of every culture reflect this.  Our job is to take those myths one step further and learn from them, eliminating the violence.  We need to leave positive impacts that will overwrite the negative impacts of such days as September 11, 2001.  Today, we need to do what those brave souls who began the day as ordinary citizens and ended it as heroes were doing.  Today we need to live.  In the words of the brave men who prevented further disaster by taking action on a flight which ended in a field in Pennsylvania, echoing the words that were also often repeated in the halls of the third battle field that day, the Pentagon….”Let’s roll” with life and make today a glorious example of living.  It is the best impact we can leave the world.