The true measure of humanity

Saira Valley

Posted on September 11 2018

The true measure of humanity
September 11. Growing up that was a date that was filled with joy and fun, it was my fathers birthday and that meant cake, and dinner out! September 11 is still my dad's birthday, but for anyone who was around that fateful day in 2001, it has become so much more. 

I imagine every person in America remembers that day vividly, where they were when they heard the shocking news that our country had been attacked in the most brutal way. I was in Boston, alone. I had just returned home from a trip to London the night before. It scared me to think that just a mere 10 hours before terrorists boarded flights departing Boston, I was standing at that very same airport. 

I called my father in Karachi as soon as I woke up that morning to wish him a happy birthday and my sister answered, she said, "I wondered when you would call?" Here I thought she was being snarky, It was just past 8AM! It was early for me! And she quickly told me, no, turn on the TV. "What channel?" i said puzzled?

"Any Channel."

It was that moment when I clicked the TV on, life as I knew it was over The second plane smashed into the tower, slicing through it like a knife, and my heart must have stopped, along with the hearts of millions of other Americans. It was simply impossible to believe that this was real. 

But it was real. A day that changed the lives of every single person in our country. There was no question, the harm that was done. But something tremendous happened that day. We saw the true measure of Americans, when complete strangers stood up to fight for one another. People who just the day before were likely mowing the lawn, or going to work, or drinking coffee; ordinary men and women, who were quietly wearing soldiers uniforms in their hearts, fought a war they didn't even know they were in, for people they didn't even know the day before. 

These heroes ran into danger to rescue anyone they could, passengers fought to get control to save lives on the ground of anyone they could. Even if the fight meant  their own demise. Firefighters ran in and out of danger over and over to carry victims to safety. People IN the towers and on the planes called their loved ones to say goodbye and tell them, "live a good life", "be happy." Even in the face of grave peril, so many thought of others. And then all the soldiers, who enlisted or deployed to protect us. The sacrifices of these incredible people, for Americans and citizens of the world they never met, never knew, it's astonishing. And humbling

Now, think on this for a moment. How many times in your own life, has someone you KNOW made a decision that caused you pain, deliberately! How many times has pettiness gotten in the way and created divides between people? And yet, on this day in history, we saw strangers lay down their lives for strangers. Gives a bit of perspective and certainly takes your breath away...

There are good people in the world. And while on that day we witnessed the worst of humanity, we also witnessed the best of it.

9/11 was a day that forever changed me. It was a day that taught me that every day is a gift, and not a right. It taught me about the kind of person I want to be. That I want to give more to others than I take, I want to lift people, never tear them down. I want to empower others to be fearless and fight for happiness. I want to live a life that is worthy of the sacrifices those strangers made that day for other strangers. 

It is my commitment, to never forget. To hold this holy lesson that I took from that day, close to my heart and pass it on to others. That there IS good in the world even in the darkest of hours. That the world changes one by one, with each connection, each of us makes. With every action of good we take for another, we make a difference. 

We cannot change the past, but we CAN build the future. I hope that everyday, I earn the footprints I leave behind.

Live with love, live with grace, humility and generosity of spirit. Be well.

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