Sixteen years later: On 9/11 life changed in an instant

If there is anything you take away from 9/11, it should be the fact that in an instant, life often is exposed as far shorter and more fragile than we ever imagined it to be.

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HONOLULU, September 11, 2017 – On this sixteenth anniversary of 9/11, consider this: On that morning, 2,974 people woke up, got out of bed, went about their business and did what they had always done so many times before, not realizing that was their last day.

If there is anything you take away from 9/11, it should be the fact that in an instant, life often is exposed as far shorter and more fragile than we ever imagined it to be.

Tragedies like September 11, 2001 are becoming more frequent in today's confused and dangerous world. Cherishing every moment and every person in our lives is important to a life free of regret. (Photo: U.S. National Park Service)
Tragedies like September 11, 2001 are becoming more frequent in today’s confused and dangerous world. Cherishing every moment and every person in our lives is important to a life free of regret. (Photo: U.S. National Park Service)

Think about all the families and friends that morning who didn’t realize that was going to be the last day they saw their father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, husband, wife, friend, co-worker, neighbor, and so on.

How many people put off telling their son, “I’m really proud of you and I love you very much” … only to discover that afternoon they never had another chance?


Or, by contrast, how many people of the 2,974 who died might have actually shown up to work late because their wife or husband said, “I need to talk to you about something this morning before you leave” – but said, instead, “I don’t have time, I need to get to work early today”?

In this world, we have become so accustomed to putting immense priorities on things that have absolutely no value whatsoever. We invest ourselves in things but neglect too carelessly the bonds between one another.

If you really want to remember 9/11, remember the greatest lesson of that day and that is that tragedy is a terrible teacher for reminding us of who and what really matters in our lives.

To commemorate 9/11, challenge yourself to do the following things this week:

  1. Make absolutely sure that you let the people in your life know that they are appreciated, valued, and special. Don’t assume you’ll always have the chance to do that later.
  2. Don’t hold grudges. Ever! Forgive everyone, and never hesitate to ask other people to forgive you when you have done wrong. Real strength is having the courage to open up your heart.
  3. Always be considerate and think of other people’s needs, not just your own.
  4. Be kind to everyone.
  5. Be wary of the “rush” mentality. Sometimes we make ourselves busy for busyness sake, and we overlook the most important people and the most valuable moments in our lives.
  6. Resist the temptation to be “right” all the time. Sometimes you need to shut up and listen to what people have to say.
  7. Most importantly of all, don’t wait till a crisis happens to “pray” for something or someone. Every tragedy began as a missed opportunity. Pray preventatively, and pray always. You never know if you might just save a life.

And today, step outside and give thanks for the bounty of your life and pray in your own way for those afflicted with tragedy every day, including those that died in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania on that day of “infamy.”

And those suffering in Texas from Hurricane Harvey and Florida from Hurricane Irma.

May God Bless all.

 

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Danny de Gracia
Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs standing committees as well as a former minority caucus research analyst at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, he has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. He has two doctorates in theology and ministry, a postgraduate in strategic marketing, a master's in political science and a bachelor's in political science and public administration. Writing on comparative politics, modern culture, fashion and more, Danny is also the author of the new novel "American Kiss" available now from Amazon.com.