I was four years old when the Twin Towers went down on September 11th, 2001. The only real memories I have of that day are of my family trying pretty damn hard to keep me away from the TV, and even then those memories are foggy at best. So - every year - I like to pay my respects in pretty much the only way I know how. I like to watch as many documentaries and TV specials about the day that I possibly can. I always figured that forcing myself to watch the same footage and hear the same stories every year would work fine in the place of memories. Over the years, I've actually grown to like watching those specials. I don't get some sick kind of pleasure from seeing the towers go down, what I like most is when they show the world coming together on the day after.
I work with assholes on a daily basis. I make my living by pleasing rude, obnoxious, ignorant people; it's hard to maintain a stable faith in humanity when you do that for long enough. But I see a very tiny glimmer of hope when I look at coverage of September 11th. I've always believed that - deep down - every person has in them the potential for good. And so much good happened in the wake of that tragedy. People were able to put aside every difference, every bias, and did anything they possibly could to help. That day had a huge impact on everybody. Not just the first responders or the people of New York. Everybody. For me, it's comforting to know that innate kindness still exists in the world.
I think - as a race - we're all a lot kinder than we think. But I think its also in our nature to be blatantly rude to each other, because human beings are naturally selfish. We don't intend to hurt people, it's just how we are. Just think about it. Not many people go about their days actively wondering just what everyone else is going through. And if they do, it's because they have to constantly force themselves to do so. We put so much focus on our own problems and our own lives; to really give a shit about anyone else just doesn't seem to be a priority. That's just how things work in the world. If a customer is rude to me at work I don't stop and think about how bad their day has been, my brain just goes right to thinking about how hurt I am.
It's funny. I'm a total cynic, and yet I know that I still have way too much faith in the world. It really is irony in it's truest form. I know from experience how terrible people can be to each other, but I've also seen plenty of cases when people completely abandoned their own interests for the sake of others. It doesn't really make sense, but that's okay. People don't always have to make sense. I think a part of my world view has probably been warped by the amount of TV that I watch, but I know that every show holds at least some degree of truth.
Whether we see it or not, every person is good. It may be stomped out or repressed by years of shit for some people, but it's in there. But - sadly - it seems as if our capacity for ignorance is equal and at times greater than our capacity for good. It's just a whole lot easier to be an ass sometimes. And it's in our nature to think that our problems are unique to ourselves. I think that the world would be vastly different today if we all treated each other the way that we treated strangers on September 12th, 2001. And - honestly - I don't really know how good it would be. Cruelty is a part of life, and it helps the world function. The bad will always bring out the good, and I think that's exactly what 9/11 did. In no way am I saying that this tragedy was good, but so much good came out of it.
It sucks that our humanity only seems to show itself when we're pulling bodies out of rubble, but it at least shows us that humanity exists. A while ago I heard a quote that really stuck with me: "When you see the world through rose-colored glasses, all those red flags just look like flags." I think that - for just a little while - tragedies like 9/11 make people take their glasses off and focus on others for a change. It's in our nature to be self-centered, but there's goodness in everybody. And when we actually take the time out to help other people with no thought to ourselves, I think that is - hands down - one of the greatest things in the world. And it acts as a reminder that, for every asshole in the world, there's so many more amazing people that exist with them.