Reflections of 9/11 remind us of the urgency for healing, change

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By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader

Observing 15 years since one of the most tragic events in the nation’s history, I couldn’t help but ponder the huge missed opportunity. With our nation under attack, the first reaction was our banding together as one to demonstrate pride, resilience and a fundamental faith in principals of democracy.

At that moment in 2011, there was genuine consideration to our getting past the superficial, philosophical, social and political influences that divide us; that we could join hands as brothers and sisters with the red, white and blue symbol of our resolve to stand as one nation.

It not only seemed believable at the time. It felt like a mandate – a prerequisite for our healing process after such a brutal assault.

However honorable those thoughts, and any related actions that accompanied them, the momentum to redefine ourselves as a nation was short-lived. Despite our still being in serious recovery mode, our propensity to prioritize selfish pursuits far outweighed our will to change. We stood together as one for a moment, then retreated to the status quo.

These observations are not offered purely for the sake of lamentation. Nothing is more pathetic than wallowing in the mire languishing in “what could have been.” No. I raise this matter to suggest that it’s not too late; that America still has an opportunity to create a monument to freedom that would be indestructible – a nation committed to applying its founding principles to all.

We are better than our behaviors sometime imply. And revolution doesn’t require unanimous participation – only that those on the right side of justice be more persistent.

This may be interpreted by some as wistful thinking – hoping for far too much in a country that seems to be increasingly divided. But rumors of the demise of hope in America may be premature. And there is some tangible evidence that change is a real possibility.

For example, efforts to vilify Colin Kaepernick for his protest of Black oppression backfired. Instead, his football jersey has become the top seller in the nation and support for his position is emerging from every corner – including fellow athletes and his own team ownership. With the barrage of critical social media in the beginning, who would have predicted such an outcome?

In another example, the vitriol of the GOP presidential candidacy may incite those predisposed to harboring bigotry, but has caused more thoughtful people of all races to reassess their personal perspectives, behaviors and courage to voice their commitment not to disassociate with extremism, hatred and discrimination. What was meant to spark race wars may have precipitated understanding.

Am I forecasting Utopia? Hardly. But the outcome of the remainder of this year determines more than simply who will occupy the White House. After all, democracy is structured with protective checks and balances.

Far more critical is the fact that the next few months will determine something of sustained, potentially irreversible impact – the fate of the soul of a nation.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: vernonawilliams@yahoo.com.

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