5 lessons from 9/11 that won't be in the history books.

Sept. 11, 2001, taught us things that will never make it into the history books. It's time to pass those lessons on.

Today is the anniversary of 9/11.

Right now, there are teenagers walking around texting, having their first kiss, and skipping class who have lived their entire lives after Sept. 11, 2001. Isn't that crazy?


I've been thinking a lot about kids lately. I've imagined what it would be like to raise a little human one day, and I've pictured all the memorable experiences that we will share together.

Photo by Sabine Nuffer/Pixabay.

But it hit me just how many major moments in world history, like 9/11, that I have lived through that will be nothing more to my kids someday than pictures in a textbook or the subject of a summer blockbuster movie.

These children will probably learn the details of that day in school. They will read how many people lost their lives and about the political response that ultimately led to the war in Iraq.

But that time was so much more than news events and politics. 9/11 taught us deep lessons about life, humanity, and ourselves that will never make it into a history book. Which of those special lessons will we pass on to the next generation? Here are my five:

1. There is no such thing as "far away."

From the moment the towers fell, the news was full of theories about American "interests" and actions abroad. For those of us who were younger and not personally connected to any country outside the U.S., it may have been the first time we'd really given any thought to the relationship between the other side of the world and our own personal lives — let alone Middle East politics. It was the awakening of the idea of global connectedness for us.

Photo by Vano Schlamov/Getty Images.

It also exposed us to the love and support of people all over the world who had no reason to care about our pain beyond the simple fact that we are all human. 9/11 taught us that what happens in one place has ripple effects that extend across the globe. We should never stop looking out into the world and paying attention to issues, cultures, and global realities different from our own. We should never stop recognizing that it's our common humanity and our capacity for empathy that connect us all.

2. You can't put a timeline on healing.

Just last month, survivor Marcy Borders — who was photographed covered head to toe in dust in an iconic 9/11 photo — died of cancer at the age of 41. She believed that her illness was directly connected to effects from that day. And she may have been right. The CDC's World Trade Center Health Program reports that thousands of survivors and first responders have been diagnosed with cancers that resulted from the attack.

Healing from trauma can take an unpredictable amount of time.

These stories and the stories of survivors still battling PTSD offer us a valuable lesson: Just as America is still dealing with the vicious legacy of slavery over a century later, just as victims of childhood abuse may struggle with the effects well into their adulthood, healing from trauma in any form can take an unpredictable amount of time. The scars aren't always obvious and they usually can't be erased with a quick fix.

That's why we have to be able to look beyond what we can immediately see to be compassionate, understanding, and supportive of those who have been hurt — for as long it takes.

3. Behind every major headline is one person's story begging to be heard.

For weeks after the attacks, you couldn't turn on the TV without seeing a slideshow of faces. Every photo of a 9/11 victim was accompanied by a name and a story. Every person became more than just a number. They became real. Seeing their pictures and stories made me feel love and solidarity in a way that opened up my heart.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

I learned then about something called statistical numbing. It's why we're less able to process the pain of thousands of people dying than we are when we hear the story of the loss of a single life. 9/11 helped me to think of every major story in the headlines — the mass genocide, hunger, and injustice that we hear about every day — as one person's story. Remembering this lesson can grow your heart a thousand times and inspire true empathy.

4. Your values will always be challenged in times of chaos. And that's exactly when they matter most.

I recently asked a friend of mine what she remembered about 9/11. Her answer shook me to my core. For her, it was the day that she started being harassed and mercilessly bullied at school. That was the day her parents sat her down and told her she was no longer safe. And that was the day that set in motion a series of events that ultimately forced her Muslim American family to move to a different neighborhood for fear of hate crimes.

After 9/11, America was so gripped with grief and panic that we allowed some of our most important values — diversity, equality, and privacy, for example — to be overtaken by fear. Just a quick look at the hashtag #AfterSeptember11 on Twitter reveals how many people are still suffering the consequences of this. What I learned in the aftermath of 9/11 is that, in the face of fear and chaos, it's vital to hold on to your values tightly. It may be difficult, but that's when those values are most at-risk.

5. There is a never-ending supply of good in the world.

It sounds cheesy, but over and over again, we see that in the midst of terrible times, the good in people continues to shine. Americans all over the country came together after 9/11. For a moment in time, all races, ethnicities, and religions joined together to mourn those who were lost, to rebuild what had fallen, and to create a renewed sense of community. It wasn't the first time that happened — and it certainly wasn't the last.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

We saw it after Hurricane Katrina, after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and after the shootings at Sandy Hook. We continue to see it on a day-to-day basis. Like when thousands of people sent money to help a stranger they read about on the internet. 9/11 taught me the true value and impact of compassion. Our task, each and every day, is to live our lives at peak goodness and humanity — even when we're not in a crisis situation. If we do that, we'll never lose our sense of hope that the world truly can be a better place.

These are just a few of the lessons that I hope every child takes with them when they learn about Sept. 11, 2001.

What lessons would you share?

More
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

Most Shared
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

Keep Reading Show less
Family