SEPTEMBER 11TH 2017
Today I have a lot of mixed feelings about the United States of America, the country of my birth and a nation of immense physical beauty but also the source of much frustration and disappointment, especially in this irrational and unfriendly era of the Trump regime. That said...
As someone whose train had just passed through the World Train Centre and who was standing on 6th avenue as the first plane roared overhead I can say that 16 years later I still have absolutely nothing but love and respect for the people of New York City. Yes, the first-responders reacted with heroic dedication to their jobs but it was the courage of the citizens themselves that was truly inspiring. From the moment the towers went down and for weeks afterwards you could see small gestures of human kindness and support everywhere you looked. From people (myself included) rushing towards the smouldering ruins ready to render whatever assistance they could, to the guy standing next to a pay phone handing out coins so people could call loved-ones, to the woman who simply stood up, walked silently across a subway car and hugged a tired looking stranger in cement-dust-covered scrubs without saying a word I was surrounded by real, good, kind people. New York may seem big and loud to most observers but to me it will always remain small & kind.
On this 16th anniversary of the September the Eleventh attacks I am remembering those moments of kindness, compassion and grace. I was privileged to be part of a city that reacted to a great crisis with intelligence, courage, incredible dignity. People put aside fear and anger and focused on what truly mattered, supporting the people in their community.
Whenever I see media reports of hatred, ignorance and intolerance I go back to my time in New York and remember that bellow the towers and the dust, away from the cameras and screens the real heart of America is that person helping a boy call his family to let them know he’s OK or that woman hugging a stranger because he looks tired and sad. That is what makes America great. Don’t lose that. Never Forget.