With Open Eyes - A Decade Removed From 9-11-01 

10 years after 9-11-01, the world looked a lot different than it did on that fateful day. As I sat at my computer on 9-11-11, these were the thoughts that poured out of my heart. It was never shared with many folks until now.

I pray that someone takes the time to read it; ponder on it; possibly share it and ultimately let it sink in that we are miserably failing on our commitment to "Never Forget."

What a Difference a Decade Makes 

Three thousand, six hundred and fifty days ago, we all sat glued in front of TV’s watching what turned out to be the worst terrorist attack ever in the United States. That afternoon and night we each went home, and the emotions ran from anger to sadness; joy to frustration; loss and disbelief to thankfulness. We all pledged that as individuals and as a country we would never be the same. We proudly stated that not a day would pass that we would not stop a little more and smell the roses. 

I distinctly remember going through life those following weeks and seeing a noticeable difference in our country. 

  • Traffic was a little less hurried. 
  • People actually stopped to let others change lanes, make turns in front of them and they waived a symbolic “thank you” through their rear windows. 
  • Virtually every car on the road had a U.S. flag proudly displayed from a window, an antenna or stuck via a magnet to the bumper. 
  • One of the most common things I noticed was very few people on cell phones in traffic. They seemed to be paying a little more attention to the scenery and their surroundings 
  • The cul-de-sac on which we lived was a bustling circle of friends many nights after 9/11. All the kids were playing while parents shared stories of how that day touched our lives. I got to know my neighbors more in those following days and weeks than I had in the prior five years we had lived on my street. 
  • We all took a little more time going from place to place whether it was walking, driving, etc. 
  • We stopped a little more and said hello to a stranger. 
  • We held doors on elevators for that person running to catch it. 
  • We left work a little earlier than normal to get home and spend some quality time with our families. 
  • We were more patient reading our children as many books as they wanted to hear each night at bedtime. 
  • We sat in a quiet room with our spouses a little more and talked – yes talked. 
  • We ate dinner at the table with no TV’s or cell phones on 
  • We fought less about trivial things 
  • The image of my church’s attendance busting at the seams that following Sunday is still one that brings a smile to my face. 
  • We hugged a lot more, cried a lot more, talked a lot more and were a lot more patient, understanding and considerate to others. 
  • As a country, our patriotism, pride and strength shown through like a beacon in the night as we heard “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch of all baseball games for the remainder of the 2001 season. 
  • The Pledge of Allegiance, prayers in the halls of our political houses, schools and businesses were widely accepted and, in many instances, expected.  

So, the question begs to be asked as we fast-forward the clock to September 11, 2011 – How are we fairing with our commitment of change? How have we done with the “We Will Never Forget” mantra we so loudly and proudly stated those days and weeks that followed? 

From my perspective, we are failing. 

  • Life is back to its frenetic pace with little regard for our neighbors 
  • The nightly news – when we get home to see it and we’re not working till 10 or 11 p.m. – is filled with debates on whether we should take words out of our Pledge of Allegiance that reference God. 
  • Our church’s attendance each Sunday is status quo – not shrinking, but not growing either. 
  • TV’s, smartphone and Facebook have replaced the nightly one-on-one talks that we used to have with our kids and spouse. 
  • To-do lists are back to two pages long since we don’t have the time to do anything other than work, sleep and eat while we move our lives forward at a break-neck pace. 
  • And last – but certainly the scariest thing – is there is more impatience, intolerance and hatred on both sides of the debate of right and wrong than there ever has been in our land. 

When will September 11, 2001 stop being an important day in our lives like December 7, 1941? 

What’s wrong with status quo? 

Does all this really matter? 

I believe it does matter! 

My hopes are that as we honestly look back at our behavior over the last decade, we try to remember how we felt that day and how we committed to changing our lives. 

I am not a philosophical man, nor do I pretend to be anyone that can make a drastic difference in my community. What I am hoping is that if each and every one of us focuses on improving our own perspective on life, how we have fallen back into a rut and how we can change things one person at a time, then we will inevitably begin to change those that are in our closest circle and then they will affect others. 

It all starts by someone taking that first step. I commit to all my friends and points of accountability that I will start today; that I will work to rekindle that flame called perspective and get my life back in order. 

I hope you’ll join me. 

- John Randolph 



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