The legacy of 9/11- Lean into becoming softer souls

by Jodie Palmer on September 11, 2011

Jodie Palmer

Jodie Palmer

I, of course, remember exactly where I was, how I heard about the World Trade Center and many more terrible details of the day. However, the years have passed for me and the experience has found a place far back in my mind and I haven’t thought much about it other than the periodic disgust I experience when I come face to face with some liberty that has been sacrificed in the name of security (but that’s a different post). However, for some reason I have become interested in remembering “it” this year. For the first time I have wanted to consider more deeply this experience. The video of  The Falling Man was just the perfect inspiration for me. It was a different sort of documentary on 9/11 than I have seen before. It didn’t focus on the heroism of the day, but rather considered elements of the day that have been globally erased and self censored. I would originally have said it is because we wanted to be sensitive to some sort of sacred ground, and the nature of 9/11 naturally repelled any sense of voyeurism. But now I think a little differently. I think coming face to face with the “jumpers” of 9/11 presents to us the truth that there is a duty we have to humanity to stand as “witnesses” to what has been and what is.

I use the term duty simply to describe the critical place that “standing as a witness” has in the preservation and movement of the cause of liberty. We cannot stand against, or hope to overcome that which we refuse to witness. What I am NOT saying is that witnessing means that every person must watch every horrible deed that is done; in fact, it doesn’t necessarily mean “watch” at all. The word witness is derived from a root meaning “to bear in mind;” “to remember;” “to be careful;” and is defined today, in part, as “knowledge;” “understanding;” and “wisdom.” What I AM SAYING is that standing as a witness is to hold within us the truth of what is and has been so that we can remember, be “watchcarers” over the unfolding of the future, and move in wisdom. The last phrase of the video is so poignant to me. “Looking at the falling man and to discuss it is the only option we have given that there is a falling man.”

I tried to imagine my sister or my brother as the falling man, and how I would feel. It’s almost a ludicrous effort, who can really say how you might feel and respond? But I pray that if or when I am placed in any sort of horrific situation as that, I would become a softer soul; softer to my kin and my friend, but even more importantly, softer to my enemy.

The possible sister of the falling man said, “I hope we aren’t searching for the identity of the falling man, but finding our own identity as we see him.” That is my hope for myself; that as I stand as a witness to the falling man, that my heart and my soul has been uncovered in greater measure, that I will be what I hope to be when I am called to love in the impossible moment.

This is my own personal work to learn to master God’s weapon of love. It might seem an oxymoron to use the terms weapon and love together. But I mean it very seriously. Love is quiet, gentle, tender, unresistingly altering, yet powerful enough to cut asunder and even to dismember.  Anyone who has figuratively “plucked out his own eye,” or “cut off his hand” understands the cutting victory of love.

As we remember 9/11, may we resist the temptation to become harder, and lean into the whisperings to become softer souls. May we be more deeply revealed to ourselves, that we can stand as powerful witnesses in the name of liberty and love.

Jodie Palmer is the mother of three beautiful children and has another on the way. She is married to Doug Palmer. Jodie has been a mentor to many, served in more capacities than can be mentioned, is beloved by hundreds of friends and her family and is the co-founder of the Leadership Education Family Builder Program.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kimberly September 12, 2011 at 12:37 am

Beautiful, so beautifully said, thanks so much for sharing.


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