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September 11, 2015

I’m going to confess something that may make me look bad.

Fourteen years ago, watching the Twin Towers fall, I didn’t feel anything. My MIND knew this was horrific, but my emotions… didn’t engage much.

I’d never been to New York, never seen the Twin Towers except in movies and on TV. When I watched on the TV as it happened, it didn’t feel real.  My brain got it and I was glued to the images, but my heart, my emotions, didn’t. I was cognitively aware our country was being attacked, but no anger, fear, sadness, or any other emotion crashed in.

Later, when I found out people I’d known or at least conversed with on the phone were in the tower, it started to sink in. Even more so, when I began to hear the personal stories of people directly impacted, my heart finally tuned in.

And I’ve always wondered why.  I’m not the most emotional person to begin with, but this was huge and deserved feeling.  Since then, I’ve decided it was a combination of two things.

  • We’re trained not to believe things we see on TV. I’ve been picking apart story, the dynamic visual arts, since I was a kid. My brain may clue in, but my heart’s been numbed by countless hours of entertainment.
  • My own personal make-up is not to freak out in emergency. I remain calm and operational during emergency situations (in one case, when a friend was choking, I felt so calm as I delivered the Heimlich Maneuver, it felt like someone else was controlling me. He lived by the way.)

There is a third aspect, again part of my nature, to try to see things from different perspectives. What could move someone to do such a horror?  I explore these questions and find the answers in tribal thinking. We’re further up the chain into national thinking, and I have relatives that claim to global thinking (which I don’t think is workable while others are stuck in tribal thinking).

Today, I do think, with heart and mind, about those who were killed and those they’ve left behind. Not too long ago, I got my first look at New York, from across the water of Lake Champlain, so Northern New York. That was enough, though. It was verdant green, but for the first time I could feel the bruise inflicted on that state and by extension, the US.

I do know that bombs will only end tribal thinking by killing tribal thinkers, but surely there’s education that can end it without death. On the children, at least, I hope.

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