The day is here. The day that seemed so far away from me. It has now been 10 years since the September 11th attacks. A day that forever change my life along with countless others in America and the world. I remember thinking during my visit to New York City in November, 2001, and again on September 11th in 2002 that I wanted to be in New York City on the 10 year anniversary. Ten years is a good whole number. It is a decade. It seemed to be a fitting time frame to come to some conclusions on what happened that day and the events that have happened since September 11th. As things have happened I was not able to make a physical appearance in New York; therefore, I will have to explore these concepts in absentia.
In my trip to New York in 2001 the city was gripped in fear and many were clinging to nationalism as a means to escape the pain. The collapsed twin towers fell upon the hearts and shoulders of my fellow Americans. I wandered the city in a daze. I really did not have time to react with my consciousness. I was just able to point my camera and push the shutter. Everywhere I turned my lens I saw the red white and blue of the American flag. Around every concrete corner I stepped there were reminders of the city had been changed. The twin towers stood no more. What does that mean to me? What does that mean to my fellow Americans? How would this event change myself as an artist? More importantly how will it change my view as a member of the human race?
I have never been overly patriotic. I truly believe in the relishing of cultural differences make a people stronger. I do not want to single out people who are not like me and label them as other. It allows too much room for hate. If we relate to each other as “other” it becomes an escape to having to interact with people who may be very different from ourselves. As I walked the streets of NYC, I saw the fear in peoples’ eyes. I saw the middle eastern men in their kebab carts displaying the flag as readily as the old immigrants. I thought to myself when will America grow up and accept all immigrants as Americans.
All Americans, except for the Native Americans, have come from the farthest reaches of the world. We all came in order to have a better life in the United States. I am amazed at how quickly my fellow Americans have forgotten that at one point in their family’s history that they too were the outsider. They were oppressed. They were not allowed to seek certain employment opportunities. The Private clubs were closed to them as well. The were despised by the Americans who had immigrated at an early time.
Now we fast forward to 2011. There is an African American in the oval office. Something in my short life I thought that I would never see. Yet, still people question his loyalty to his country. The fact is that America’s racial and cultural composition has drastically been altered by immigration patterns over the last 50 years. The day is fast approaching where white skinned Americans will be the minority and dark skinned Americans will be the majority. Unfortunately instead of embracing our various cultural identities some of my fellow Americans are running scared from what the coming future.
When will Americans, regardless of cultural, release their hate from their lives and fill that void with love? To love one another. To seek truth over lies and deceit. To venture forth and find real change. Not the fleeting change that comes from politics, but the real change that lifts up humans hearts as we grow closer to one another through the Creator. Like the hand written piece of fabric left at St. Paul’s Chapel that read, “God Bless the World.” The world needs to be blessed by the Creator. Not hate, but to allow love to flourish.
This 10 year anniversary should be a time to reflect as a people where have we journeyed over the past years. For I, as an artist, the experience of September 11th has forever changed how I communicate to the world. Our time here on earth is so limited. I do not want to fill what little time I have been allotted with hate. I want to go out to the world with an open heart with camera, brush, or word to bring more light into the world. September 11th taught me to embrace by voice. To go out into the world and use expression as my weapon to reveal slices of my soul. It taught me not to be afraid of the unknown. I am able to step with confidence out into a troubled world with the knowledge of love in my heart, and righteousness in my works.
Take the time this September 11th to take stock in yourself. How do you want to spend the valuable life force we have been granted. Let us take these energies to seek out good, justice, and beauty. Do not let the hate and fear control your life. Life is short to be filled with negative emotions. Go out and livicate yourselves to each other. Make the conscious choice to live in the light.
below follow some previously published images from 2001 and 2002 in New York City