Left Justified: 9/11 10th anniversary: Healing each other

September 7, 2011

Stanley Campbell

By Stanley Campbell

It’s been 10 years since the atrocities committed on Sept. 11, 2001.

It’s been 10 years since many of us saw, on live television, airliners smashing into the World Trade Center and the towers crumbling to the ground.

It’s been 10 years since the Pentagon was attacked, and an airplane full of civilians overcame hijackers, and all were all killed in a Pennsylvania field when the plane crashed.

Those were life-changing days. All the airlines stopped flying. The people focused on the news, and the news was shown continuously on all stations.

Things got back to normal along with the first ads on CNN. By the time QVC was back on the air, many of us had resumed our lives. But there was a lot going on with our government. Stringent new laws affecting our freedoms were passed, trillions were spent hunting down the terrorists and beefing up the strongest military force the world has ever seen. All done without a tax increase (imagine that).

On this 10th anniversary, Rockford will join in commemorating the day that changed our lives. The biggest event should be the evening choirs and interfaith prayers at the Coronado Theatre Saturday, Sept. 10. Beginning at 7 p.m., Dr. Paul LaPrade, choir director at Rock Valley College, will conduct seven interfaith prayers and eight choirs. The program is free and open to everyone. Many other events are planned across the city.

But I encourage people to look beyond the anger and hatred that these murders naturally elicited. When some Rockford Neanderthals attacked the Albaraka Bakery on Broadway, many people came to the defense of the Islamic owners. God bless those defenders! But some Christian churches still attack all Arabs and Islam from their pulpits and encourage, as Jerry Falwell said, “invasion and forced conversion to Christianity.”

Thank God they are still in the minority.

I’ll be speaking to one of the majority churches at 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 11. Emmanuel Lutheran, 920 Third Ave. (at Sixth Street) has invited me to share some thoughts of peace and war, and hopes for the future. After the service, they’ll have the kids (and adults) releasing butterflies. You are welcome!

I’d like to remind you that we’re all suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At least that’s what my friend, veterans’ counselor Ray Parrish, suggests. He says all who witnessed the Twin Towers fall, even if only on TV, are still a bit stunned, the same as a soldier who watches his companions blown away. Ray suggests we should all go through PTSD counseling.

Luckily, we can treat ourselves just as the Vietnam veterans treated themselves. Instead of reacting angrily, we listen to each other’s concerns. Try to treat each other with respect and, as the veterans do in self-help groups, keep our mouths shut while someone is talking.

The recipe for healing: have the courtesy to listen to each other.

This helped the Vietnam vet heal back when no one believed their cries for help. Severe PTSD involves nightmares, lack of sleep, self-medication with alcohol or drugs, angry outbursts directed at loved ones. The most distressed relieve their pain through suicide. Thank God the vets learned to heal each other. The first thing Vietnam’s warriors did was help the Afghan and Iraq vets talk it out. Too bad the defense budget didn’t have enough money for healing as for inflicting pain. But the rich needed those tax cuts … anyway …

We Americans who witnessed 9/11 on television have a mild form of PTSD. Let’s try to be less afraid and more ready to help those in need. The best form of health is helping others. The best way to overcome mental anguish is to share with others. Then, we can watch the butterflies!

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Sept. 7-13, 2011, issue

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