Thursday, November 2, 2017

Love by Karen Rock



I didn’t intend to write this piece, but my heavy heart guides my typing fingers. New York City, close to where I grew up in Long Island, home still to members of my family, has once again been attacked by terrorism. Like many of you, I watched in horror as first one plane, then another flew into the twin towers on 9/11. A coworker had called me into the front office to show the news coverage of what appeared to be a horrible plane crash into one of the world’s biggest buildings. No one mentioned terrorism. Then, to our shock and horror, a second plane cruised into the camera frame and smashed into the other building. I remember staring blankly, unable to fully grasp what had just happened. When another plane struck the Pentagon, I asked out loud, are we under attack? I thought another country had declared war on us.


That was my frame of reference in 2001. War or a tragic accident. I’d heard of terrorist attacks, but they occurred in foreign countries, where religious differences among people living in proximity boiled into hate-fueled violence. But in America? A country founded by people who fled religious persecution to practice freely and peacefully… such an important value to our ground-breaking democracy that our founding fathers guaranteed us religious freedom… how could that happen here? As the day wore on, with personal tragedies unfolding for me and my family when we learned we’d lost two members, I remembered thinking our nation would never be the same. Other than Pearl Harbor, we’d never had such an attack on U.S. soil. That feeling of safety was gone to us forever.



Now, whenever I hear of an attack on civilians, my first thought is terrorism. That’s become the new normal. It saddens me that some now seem a bit hardened to violence, our innocence gone, our indignation, too, possibly as a story lasts one news cycle before moving on to the next story. Nearly fifty people died at the hands of a mad man in Las Vegas, yet it's rarely mentioned anymore. Now eight people bicycling from work have lost their lives. All innocent civilians whose lives were cut short by hate.  How long will we talk about this attack? Five days... a week... is my best guess before something else catches the media’s attention. Are we now immune to being shocked and horrified as we were on 911? I just saw one journalist joke around with another, saying he liked his “Newscaster Costume” as they are on air in NYC covering a fatal attack that occurred just hours ago. Maybe I’m the odd one out whose bruise from 911 never healed. Every act of violence presses on that bruise and I hurt. I won’t get used to this new normal. I hope we never do. To accept violence is to accept hate and I reject it in every form.


24 comments:

  1. Years ago, when I wrote a newspaper column, I wrote one the paper titled "Will we ever get over it?" about the young mother who killed her own children. I don't think any of us have "gotten over" any of the horrors of the past decades, but numbness is sometimes merciful. A great post, Karen.

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    1. Thanks, Liz- it was so painful to write, I couldn't even promote it or check on comments before now

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  2. Lovely post, Karen. You are not alone when it comes to the tragedy on 9/11. What an injustice to the victims of terrorists attacks, if we accept this as the new normal.

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    1. It's true- to accept this does a grave injustice to those we've lost. Thank you for sharing that thought, Liz

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  3. A very moving post, Karen. Too often the ‘faceless’ victims of terrorism are quickly forgotten, even by a country’s own politicians as they try to score points and TV air time. Some newspapers publish photos and brief bios of people who are killed which remind us they were people with families, jobs, children ....That newscaster is a shameful example of how insensitivity sets in. It should be simple to co-exist, as your title suggests. Love.

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    1. Someday I'll share with you the two familiy members I lost- they were first responders and true heroes- it's still hard to think of what they went through in the last moments of their lives.

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  4. Thank you for saying this, Karen. A lot of people now don’t even remember or think about 9/11, one of the most defining events in this country. The sad truth is that others are at war with us. I wish for peace like anyone else, but that is not our reality right now. The question is: how do we deal with it? That newscaster should be fired. A stunning display of insensitivity.

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    1. It was a stunning display of insensitivity- right behind them were the mangled bicycles in the distance. The juxtaposition of their joking around with the carnage behind them was shocking and horrifying

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  5. Thanks for this post, Karen. I'm always taken aback by how intensely these kinds of events are covered, but how quickly they fade. Right now, it's as if Las Vegas never happened. On to the next thing...I'll never get used to that, or the frequency with which these violent events occur, whether labeled terrorism or not.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more. Things are covered than forgotten while news cycles dwell on petty stuff I don't see as being nearly as important

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  6. To reject hate is not to love. I reject anyone who hates my gender and my daughter's gender. I do not love them, either. I appreciate your thought-provoking post, Karen.

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    1. I read To Kill a Mockingbird at a young age and it had such a profound effect on me- I understood that ignorance spawns hate because we fear what we don't understand- so the instinct by some is to close out people who look/act/speak/worship differently than we do and that separation begets ignorance which turns into hate and division. I don't love people who hate me, but I won't hate them euther and if I can enlighten them even better

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  7. Karen, thanks for this post. I wish news media would never give the perpetrator any facetime, but would give good tidbits about the people they kill, who like you said are normal humans. As it turned out 6 were visiting our country. 5 were college friends having a reunion. I agree that we can't let the terrorists win and take away our freedom to go about our daily lives, but the victims deserve recognition.

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    1. They deserve our recognition for sure and should never be forgotten

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  8. Last night, my husband and I went to see the musical, Something Rotten, at ASU Gammage. I've had season tickets for 8 years. For the first time, security checkpoints were set up at the entrance. Bags were searched and patrons had to walk through metal detectors. Yes, I felt safer but also saddened that it's come to this. My heart hurts.

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    1. That is sad, Cathy and a gut check moment of what our world has become.

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  9. I agree with Roz in wishing the media would not give the terrorist any air time and instead talk about the victims. It is so sad that when even a bad accident happens I immediately wonder if it's a terrorist attack.

    We must stop hating.

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    1. Yes! Me must stop hating and giving hate-filled people any "glory" by being named.

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  10. Modern media means we're bombarded with tragedy from all over the world all day long. In order to survive, we develop a callus and don't think of those strangers as real people. Neither do the terrorists. To them, the victims are just a means of drawing attention to their cause, not real people who work and play and love their families. But they are real, and they matter.

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    1. So we'll said, Beth! These are normal, regular people who deserve better from us than a couple days of attention

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  11. Such sad times we're living in and what's the answer? No matter what we do, hate tries to worm its way back in. MLK said "Hate can not drive out hate. Only love can do that." Really sad to think we may not have enough of that anymore. :(

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    1. Sometimes I feel that way too- how much love is left in the world compared to the hate

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  12. My bruise from 9/11 never healed either, Karen. I was living in NY during the 9/11 attacks and it forever changed how I view life. I hope my senses will never be dulled when it comes to tragic events, even though sometimes I think it’s a defense mechanism that protects us from the horrors we are bombarded with so often these days. Thank you for reminding us about the power of love and acceptance in such perilous times.

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  13. I haven't healed either, Karen, and agree with your powerful post. I also agree with Laurie about how we subconsciously develop defense mechanisms. It's sad that we have to. I regulate how much news I watch now because it's just too depressing. At the same time, we have to be aware in order to instigate change. I pray for a more peaceful future for our kids and grand kids.

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