What Does Life Mean To You?

Letter to Self

Below is a letter I wrote to myself after the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. I found it while going through my old files. That was a little over thirteen years ago, and at the time I lived alone with my two teenage sons. They were 15 and 14 and still in school. The letter is still relevant and worthy of reflection today. Could that much time have passed?

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

For the last few weeks, my health has been troubling me. For the past thirty years, my doubts about humanity have been shaky. And today, after hearing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, I know that it is time for all of us to “wake up.”

I do not want Bill Gates to make better software for my computer; I do not want the press to waste my time discussing any political leaders sexual preferences, I do not want the enormous resources of our country and world used for the accumulation of greater collective and individual wealth. Most of all, I do not want people to continue to isolate themselves from one another with political and religious boundaries.

Yesterday, as usual, while retrieving my Starbucks coffee in the local shopping center I was frustrated with the long lines. My time was spent thinking about how upset it made me that a reasonably priced house in my area started in the $600,000 range and went up from there.

As I stepped out of Starbucks, and my frustration, I noticed a well-dressed woman wearing a sandwich board over her neatly pressed clothes. The sandwich board contained her resume. How odd. What a humbling contrast to my own seemingly urgent circumstances.

What is important to us as humans? We do not even attempt to pretend that the freedoms and liberties so important to us extend to those outside our social or religious or political circles. How easy it would be to agree that we should annihilate the middle eastern countries. They are hostile. How easy that would be. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people that live in those countries are victims of the same forces the rest of the world is.

The real challenge is for all of us to find ways of protecting their liberties as well as our own. Why don’t we take ten years off from expanding our self-interests and use every resource in the world to come closer together as humans?