Our daughter Maggie still attended high school in Merida, and at a quarter to eight – local time, she was already at her desk. Our son Carlos had recently started his studies at a Canadian college. I got breakfast ready while Jorge finished his shower. A normal September day… except that it wasn’t.
“Joanna, come here! Quick!” I arrived to see the TV image of a jet aircraft crashing into a skyscraper. I suspected that I was watching a trailer for a newly released disaster movie, I asked, “What is this?” “This is terrorism,” said Jorge. We both turned white. We learned that the horror had happened in New York. We couldn’t believe it… but it was true.
Although we knew that our children were safe, thousands of miles away from danger, we had to hear their voices and they needed our reassurance. First Carlos called, and then Maggie. I hoped I’d be able to calm down before I got to our school… but I couldn’t.
Towards the evening, the father of a friend of my daughter came to see me. He believed me to be an American citizen, and wanted to offer his condolences. Very formally he asked if my family was safe and if he could do anything for me. His kindness touched me deeply… I didn’t tell him that I am Canadian.
In the days that followed, we heard more details, and our sorrow grew. I was glued to the television. The funerals were held. Valliant people were honored. Heroic dogs were remembered. New York police and firemen were praised for their immense sacrifice. I hoped that the death and the destruction would help the people of the world to see that violence doesn’t resolve anything… Unfortunately, it seems that didn’t happen, because more violence has followed.
In Mexico, we are not strangers to violence. It has become so common place to hear of murders, kidnappings and corruption. October 2nd will mark the 43rd anniversary of another terrible tragedy: the 1968 student massacre at Tlatelolco.
This summer, I visited Norwayand I went to the site of the recent bombing. The flowers were piled six feet high. This was two weeks after the attack, and the material, psychological, and spiritual reconstruction had begun. In the shadow of bulldozers and forklifts, citizens got down on their knees to pick up shards and splinters of glass. The attitude was one of forbearance and restraint.
In Oslo, one stout fellow told me, “We can’t let violence change our way of life. If we do that, then the evil has won.”
Can we modify our thinking to be more in keeping with this? Or is “the dark side” already too far out in front? Is it possible still, for us to reclaim our lives, and not allow fear to make us act in ways we’d not dream of under “normal” conditions?
Bottom line: We’re all roommates on this planet…
Images: The first two, taken immediately after the attack on the World Trade Centre, come from the Google Images file. . The next two are my photographs, taken 2 weeks after the tragedy in Norway. The final image is of a poster that commemorates the anniversay of Tlatelolco.