Sunday, September 11, 2011

If Only

(Dedicated to the memory of my Aunt Joan and Uncle Tom Moroney and their son Dennis. Dennis, a husband, a father of two and one of seven brothers, was murdered in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Aunt Joan and Uncle Tom suffered grievously but with dignity and now both are with him in eternal peace.)

I have a terrible habit of thinking in terms of ‘If only…” I think it about the little things. If only I had left earlier, I would not have gotten stuck in traffic. If only I had remembered milk I would have some for my tea. I think it about the big things. If only I had known I was going to develop MS, I could have saved more money. If only I had known my husband had a heart condition, I could have intervened and he might still be here today, enjoying his children and grandchildren instead of dying at 40.

And I think it about the huge things. If only human beings did not have such an enormous capacity for hatred and intolerance.

Most of the time thinking “if only” is futile. You didn’t, so get over it. Move on. You can’t change the past. On the other hand, “if only” can be a lesson. Be more organized, write things down, pay closer attention to the people around you. Oh yeah, and don’t hate and kill people because of their beliefs, skin color, gender preferences, or any other reason.

It is easy to be angry with someone who is not nice to you or is deliberately hurtful. But most of the time, you will not be moved to then murder them. So to take it the next step and hate a stranger, someone who has never uttered a word to you, to hate them because of who they worship or where they live, seems to me the least human of behavior. But I am clearly wrong, because centuries of history show that it is the most human of behavior.

I see two sides to the September 11 coin. One side is the horrific loss of vibrant, treasured, innocent people. The other side is the continued legacy of mistrust and bitterness that continues to pervade our world. The United States, and by extension, Americans, are despised for their perceived arrogance and ignorance. Muslims are held in fear and contempt, perceived as savage murderers. And those are only two groups I could cite. There are infinite sub-groups continually busy hating and killing each other all over the world.

The thing that most amazes me about this continued behavior is that NO ONE EVER WINS. No one. Hatred is never effective, never achieves the desired end, is never ultimately successful. And yet it thrives. I am clearly naïve and lack insight, because part of me just doesn’t get it. Why perpetuate actions that are doomed to failure? Then I think of our government, where partisanship and flat out antagonism continually undermines the good of our nation. I think of the animosity that arose this week in my family alone, a relatively tiny but bitter war where everyone was a loser. Then I realize, it all goes back to being human. And humans are infinitely flawed. So logic and facts do not count for much when one is blinded by hatred and a quest for vengeance.

I don’t know what the answer could possibly be. When faced with a dilemma, my first approach is usually prayer. There is a World Pray for Peace Day (September 21, my birthday ironically). There are many other Days of Prayer (National: First Thursday in May; Global: 5/27/12; World Peace & Prayer: usually in June; Women’s World Day of Prayer: this year was March 4; Unity World Day of Prayer: second Thursday of September), but these obviously haven’t worked yet. Of course almost all of them exclude non-Christian religions, so there might be a problem there. One wonders what exactly is being prayed for.

Armed hostility hasn’t worked. Negotiation hasn’t worked. What else is there? Communication? Education? Persuasion? None have worked. And we never learn. We are still hating and killing each other.

If only things were different. If only people were different. If only each and every child born in the world was taught human life is precious and we must cherish one another. If only...


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brokenteepee said...

If only will drive you in circles until you go crazy. You cannot change what has been only how you will be.

I am a very firm believer in when it's your time it's your time. Whether that time is a massive conflagration or a peaceful sleep, it's your time. We can only live the life we have with the best intentions.

I for one do not understand the hate that go back centuries. How can some hate for a wrong that was done to a person a thousand years ago. The energy spent keeping that alive is so pointless.

Judy said...

In light of how you conclude this post, I thought you might find interesting the following quote which I used to commemorate this day.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.... The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.


Unknown said...

This post is so awesome! It gives serious food for thought. I am sorry that you lost relatives in the Twin Towers. I can remember that day as I watched my television here in Jamaica. I have also written a post on 9/11. As someone who has experienced the grief of the loss of loved ones including an identical twin sister in 2008 I find comfort in knowing that their memories will live on. Take care and my best wishes to you and your family.

Jane Turley said...

Hi Marie-

I was having problems reading your blog - Google was warning me not to proceed as there was Malware and saying that they had reported it to some site! That had never happened to me before so I left it a few days and hey ho everything seems to have been sorted and I have now been able to catch up with your posts:)

What a traumatic time you have been having - a week of reflection and mourning:( Families and relationships are so complex - I have been thinking about this a lot this week as I have just finished reading a book that I am to review to called The Generation Game. But I agree with you, whether family or friend - remove toxic people from your life; life is to short to be embroiled in their goings-ons.

Stay strong now My Friend:)

cardiogirl said...

Those what ifs are so tempting, aren't they? And yet nothing good comes from them. I try to stay away from that path but it seems when I'm feeling really down that's where my thoughts go.

Rosemary said...

I choose to remember on Yesterday's Memories with a memorial to Norma Khan, one of the victims of 9/11. It's obvious from her photo and name that she is of Eastern heritage. Sometimes we tend to forget that many different ethnic peoples lost their lives that day.

If only we would learn to see human beings, rather than stereotypes.

Marie said...

Pricilla - I agree that if only can make you crazy. I am living proof. lol However, I have tried to temper it in recent years and if I cannot learn from my if only I dismiss it. I just wish we could dismiss hatred as easily. And I also agree with being unable to understand hatred that goes back centuries. Let it go! Move on! But ethnicities all over the world hold deadly grudges. It is disheartening.

Judy - As I said on your blog, this quote is perfect. And so true. Thank you for posting it.

Judy H-J - Thank you so much for your kind words. That was a terrible, terrible day. Thank goodness for the memories of lost loved ones.

Jane - It certainly has been tumultuous. And very, very sad on so many levels. Life is too short for this nonsense and mine is probably going to be shorter than usual, so I really don't have time to fool around. It still makes me sad though. Thank you for your encouragement, my friend. {{hugs}}

Cardiogirl - I practically leap down that road. lol But I feel stronger lately and can let more go. But I can't let go of praying for peace.

DB - What a beautiful gesture. Yep, 9/11 was equal opportunity murder. Muslims, Christians, Jews, black, white, all were victims. I tried to read every Portrait of Grief that the Times printed, to honor each victim and make sure I remembered they were individuals.

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments!!