Reflections on 9/11

9/11 Tribute in Light, 2004. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Following is a reprint of my thoughts in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. As we reflect 20 years later, much has changed profoundly in our world, and yet we are still grappling with so many of the same issues. Through immense crises and relative calm, the non-profit community continues to serve as an essential force for help, healing, relief, inspiration, and positive change.

To everyone who works tirelessly for others, whether one-on-one or on a global scale, thank you. May we continue to work side by side for a better tomorrow for all. We are all in this together for the long haul.

October 1, 2001

The Long Haul

By Linda M. Czipo

In our collective struggle to recover from the devastating events of September 11, we find ourselves aching for some semblance of normalcy and a sense of control over our lives. We find ourselves with an intense desire to help.  We desperately search for some good to come from this unimaginable horror.

If there is a light within the darkness of this crisis, it shines in the incredible bravery, sense of community and indomitable human spirit that has been displayed in the wake of the disaster, and in the thousands of non-profit organizations and volunteers that have answered the call for help. Disaster relief organizations, volunteer fire companies, first aid squads, mental health organizations, crisis counselors, hospitals, religious groups, food banks, fund raising organizations, animal rescue groups and countless others have mobilized swiftly, working in partnership with government officials to address direct needs and channel the outpouring of generosity from a shaken world.

The human and financial toll of the September 11 tragedy could take years to become fully evident.  Non-profits will be there for the long haul, as they have time and time again. And they will need help for the long haul, to address not just the enormous issues that are still unfolding, but with the many others that preceded this catastrophe. New Jersey’s cost of living is still among the highest in the nation.  The gap between the richest and poorest among us is persistent and widening. Our natural resources continue to be endangered. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many other health concerns take the lives of thousands of people every year. Our children need nurturing and education, our elderly special care. We need artistic and cultural outlets for our emotions and creativity. The need for dialogue, understanding and tolerance among people of differing backgrounds and appearances is more acute than ever.

With the disaster still fresh in our minds and hearts, it seems as if “normalcy” will never return to us. As so many have noted, when it does it may be markedly different from what we knew before.  But if we allow our lives and our future to be defined and guided solely by what we have lost, then we will have conceded to the enemy. Amidst the horror, we have gained a renewed sense of perspective about what is really important in our lives.  Our challenge is to work together to keep that shared purpose and vision high in our minds and hearts. 

As we try to resume our daily lives, let’s keep our eye on the big picture. Keep volunteering. Keep giving. Remember our neighbors, whether they are across the street, across the ocean, in lower Manhattan or Appalachia. Remember those causes that we supported before and which continue to depend on us. There are so many opportunities to make a difference. Together, we can sustain the spirit that has always helped us through our darkest hours. If we do, we will have won one of the biggest battles in the war on terrorism.