The anniversary of Sept. 11 is upon us. The day we remember was dramatically significant in the life and soul of our America. Ground Zero is now sacred ground consecrated by our tears, our grief, our tremendous pain and suffering. It is the place where we became we and us and stopped being the almighty American ego. We, finally, as a culture, grew up.
First we walked a mile in the shoes of the heroic firemen helping and encouraging everyone to exit the twin towers as quickly as possible. They might have known that there was a very strong likelihood they would not return. Then we watched as people jumped from windows and saw others who made it miraculously, safely, thankfully and God-willing, to the ground before the towers collapsed. Our collective imaginations walked the last 60 seconds of their lives. It was a powerful moment of no turning back, no interpretation, just rare raw truth and grief. There were more than 2,000 people who didn't get out at all.
Meanwhile, we began to walk a mile with the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Then there was the mysterious plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
That plane had been hijacked by suicide pilots that were heading for Washington, the White House or the Senate. Heroically the passengers learned by cell phone, that the attack on the twin towers was also the work of hijackers like the ones they were, at that moment, dealing with. Knowing then that their destiny would be death, they decided to go for a heroic martyrdom that would save the capital. This knowledge and this choice that they made more than likely saved the capital and in doing so saved the United States of America.
Back in New York, so many people's lives became a story to be told by another, by a surviving friend, co-worker, relative, in the small community newspapers and national dailies where journalists did their walking the last mile in the shoes of those lives lost. Ground Zero brought forth again the heroic, the grief ridden, those with determined or faint hope, searching for survivors. Then there were those who out of great generosity, adventure and genuine compassion, were willing to volunteer and came from all over the country, as far away as California and Florida. Willing to do whatever it took ... moving dirt and debris, serving food, extending support and prayers to the tired and grieving.
We walked a mile with incredible rescue dogs who came from California. In Wisconsin a whole town raised money to build and replace a fire engine that had become worn out, unusable. People all over the country and the world were walking a mile in their shoes by giving donations. All of this walking had to do with what we call in the Peace Empowerment Process, the water element of peace.... identification, empathy, genuine compassion and praise. These powers were generously, tirelessly and selflessly used to express our gratitude, and genuine compassion for the families of those we lost. The power of their collective courage resulted in a genuine martyrdom of the innocents.
September 11, 2001, resulting in Ground Zero, was all about interdependence. Power in the weeks and months that followed had nothing to do with capitalism and everything to do with a community transcending opposites and differences, to express their creativity and genuine compassion. Their collective organic powers were peace, natural developed powers.
September 11, 2002, has everything to do with the sacred responsibility of remembering, with genuine compassion and praise, for New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. We are compelled once again to answer the question "Why do they hate us, the US?" Their truthful answer will take genuine humility on our part and the courage to ask and to receive. The answer will be found if we listen with our minds open. This answer is vital to our survival as a nation and can only be found by asking, listening and by walking a mile in their shoes.
Carolyna Marks is a Berkeley-based artist and sculptor and teaches her Peace Empowerment Process (PEP) to schools and community centers all over the world through her organization World Wall for Peace.