Tuesday’s horror was preceded by Monday Night Football
I went to bed feeling sick the night of September 10, 2001. My sports hero was Ed McCaffrey, #87 and Denver Broncos wide-receiver, general nice guy and spectacular athlete. During that night’s Monday Night Football game against the NY Giants (boo!) Eddie Mac had suffered a broken leg. “In sustaining the injury, he made a spectacular catch and did not fumble the ball.”
I had trouble sleeping that night, reviewing in my mind over and over again the play that made my own leg hurt, made me ache for Mr McCaffrey, as well as his wife and children who surely saw it happen. I must have finally gotten to sleep because I then slept through my alarm and was late to work. Still feeling bleargh about poor Eddie Mac, I loaded 5 month-old Tessa into the car to drop her off at my mom’s on my way downtown.
The comedy radio show I listened to was uncharacteristically somber. The DJs were known for doing some wild stunts, but pretending that two planes had hit the twin towers was unthinkable, even for them. It wasn’t long before I realized that this was news, not a stunt. I tamed the freak-out that was roiling inside me and called my boss, who told me not to come in to work as our office was right across the street from Denver’s own World Trade Center — twin towers of 50 or so stories, dedicated to international business.
Relieved of duty, Tessa and I continued to my parents’ house. My parents and I, like the rest of the country, were glued to the TV, unable to turn away from the horror, destruction, bravery, loss, the sheer magnitude of all of those things.
Finding unity from duality?
A few weeks later, I introduced Dr Stephen Covey to a couple of thousand people who attended his leadership speech, sponsored by my organization. I had gotten to spend a little time privately with Dr Covey prior to the event, and I was supremely excited to get his take on 9/11. I was seeking spiritual guidance from him, something to counter the Us/Them Good/Evil rhetoric I was hearing from other thought leaders. My hopes were high — Stephen Covey was the one who brought to me the message seek first to understand, then to be understood as part of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
I wanted a way to frame 9/11 as an event that was sparked by the worst in people — a feeling of separation and anomie so great that suicide and mass murder seemed like a good plan — and which consequently brought out the best in people — we are all familiar with the stories of heroism, of the people who played the hand they were dealt that day with courage and sacrifice and honor. I was looking for some way to reconcile the opposites, something to encompass everything in between, to see that the organism we call Humanity, while seemingly a bunch of separate beings, is, in reality, One. That the more the parts recognize they are components of the One, the less hurting of itself the parts will do.
I was sorely disappointed. Dr Covey declared early in his presentation that, simply, there is Evil in the world.
I think this is the easy way out. I think it’s much more difficult to try to understand what made such acts possible. I did not get that wisdom and insight from Dr Covey that day.
So let me tap into your wisdom and insight. How might seek first to understand; then to be understood work on such a massive scale? What would that understanding look like? Could the simple act of seeking to understand bring a “peace that passeth all understanding”?
You may say I’m a dreamer.