Last year, I flew home from working the US Open in NYC on 9/11. Needless to say, the airport was an odd and solemn place that day. But what was even more eerie than that was Lower Manhattan.
That morning before flying home, I decided to hop in a cab from my hotel in Midtown and head down to Ground Zero. I've been there several times before, but felt a certain conviction to do it the day of. When I exited the cab, I immediately felt a certain thickness in the air and a heaviness in my heart. Ground Zero and the memorial fountains were closed to the public so that the victim's families could have privacy remembering their loved ones. I walked the blocks surrounding Ground Zero and couldn't keep my mind from racing to my memories that day watching it unfold on television, and what it must have been like in person for everyone in that exact same area. Seeing the images and videos of the attacks, the people running and screaming, the billowing dust and smoke everywhere, and then seeing those same areas cleaned up and rebuilt. It was a case of deja vu.
Today, as I remembered my experience there last year, a thought occurred to me. Immediately after 9/11 - our country immediately united and people became closer than I've ever since experienced in my lifetime. "United We Stand" was everywhere. 15 years later, I can't help but feel like the new slogan of our country has become the opposite - "Divided We Fall". Think about the ones who lost their lives in those attacks! There were Americans and foreigners. Blacks and Whites. Christians and Muslims. Democrats and Republicans. Conservatives and Liberals. Gays and Straight. The very same people who encompassed all these different demographics of those who perished on 9/11 and who united us a nation and humans - make up the very same demographics that divide us today. Put that into perspective before we are so quick to judge others, whether it's based on their color, views or orientation. We are all human and God has created us each uniquely. He has given each of us the free will to do and believe what we want. Just because someone looks different than you, or holds different beliefs than you, doesn't mean they are any less human than you.
To most, I may look like your typical American, conservative Christian, white guy. However, I'm actually a multi-racial, born from a 2nd and 3rd generation of immigrants. I am a Christian who believes in Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross to forgive us our sins, but guess what? I'm not a social conservative, but more of a moderate. We often say when talking about others, "don't judge a book by its cover". How about, don't judge at all? We are each our own book with our own unique story that makes us who we are.
Each of the names engraved around the memorial fountains at Ground Zero had their own unique book. We honor and remember them as they are no longer with us - let us also honor and respect each other while we are living.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
- John 13:34-35