Hope for Tomorrow

My phone rang at 4:30, the quiet voice of my jogging partner both pleading and consoling asking if I would make it for our daily jog.  I initially said no, I was too tired, then I reluctantly called back and said I would be right over.  It was a little rainy that morning, usually was rainy in that part of Washington, as we jogged through western part of Tacoma.  I liked running this early, just my friend and I alone on the streets, still dark and awaiting the promise of a new day.
My primary reason for jogging at 4:30 in the morning so I could make my breakfast and be at work by 6:30.  My boss at the time was pretty demanding, and though there was not much for me to do at that time, I was at work because he was at work – it’s just the way it was done.  I got back from my jog and was cooking breakfast, bacon and eggs, watching Good Morning America when I saw the second plane fly in to the tower.  I remember quite clearly the smell of the food as it sizzled and spat on the stove, the whole time the thought going through my head, “was that a cartoon, did that just happen?”  My roommate came out, asked what happened, said, “Wow, that’s horrible,” and left for work without a second thought.  For me, it was all I could think about, and as I sat down and ate my breakfast I contemplated, “What happens next?”
Throughout the day I was bombarded with imagery and information to the point of overload.  I finally got a call from my best friend who was in New York.  By some fluke she and her family had not gone to the Twin Towers that morning, she was not feeling well so they went to a restaurant a few miles away.  I was coaching basketball at the time, and as one of the primary recruiters I made phone calls to a few of our prospective players.  The conversation was the same each time, never about basketball, all about the attacks.
I went downstairs to the basketball court and started shooting, it was all I could do: mindless, repetitive, comforting to do something I have always done so many hours before.  The act of shooting the ball cleared my head and calmed me, much like a baby being held or eating your favorite food after a bad day.  I spoke to my employer a few minutes later who asked if I was alright.  The terrorist attacks did not bother him, a lot of things didn’t bother him, but the idea that there was someone out there who did not like me for the simple fact that I was an American bothered me, and I needed a day to try and understand that concept.
As time went on I often think about 9-11 from an outside perspective, as that is what it felt like, me on the outside looking in at myself, my reaction, and my life on that day.  It still bothers me that someone could hate with such passion and commitment to perform such a heinous act.  Then, I see on the news that a group in Florida wants to burn the Qur’an.  I feel like nothing has been learned.
When I think about that day I still wonder, “What happens next?” as a lot of anger and hate was manifested in those acts of terror.  As educators we strive every day to teach our students to not only tolerate each other, but accept one another for what makes us unique and different.  A challenging task to say the least as we strive to teach it from our classrooms, to our schools to our communities we teach our students about character.  That is my hope, that I can instill in my students the character needed to educate and accept others.  Every day, every student, every class … “What happens next,” starts with me.
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~ by cadaleaders on September 12, 2010.

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