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It’s another 9/11 and I am listening to a Johnny Cash cover of Bridge Over Troubled Waters and thinking about conversations I have had with the kids about the ways things were before the Towers were taken out and how they have been since.

I know it is not in sync with the headline on this post and that at least a few of you will ask if this is a repeat of You Won’t Learn How To Blog Or Be Sexier From This Post.

The answer is that it is not and it was never intended to be. It is just part of my process of finding a more comfortable way to deal with the weight of the day.

This is the day I remember watching the news while my son played with blocks. As The Bodies Fell He Played and I wondered what impact what was happening would have upon his life.

My middle sister and her family were living in the city then and even though I heard early on that they were safe I wondered about whether there would be more attacks on New York and what would happen.

Fourteen years later I know the answers to most of the questions I had from that day.

Though I have some stories about personal contacts and connections who worked at the World Trade Center I don’t have any stories about people who were close to me.

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not trying to minimize the tragedy I am saying that I recognize that it was and is far worse for others.

Hard Conversations & Hard Questions

As a father it is much easier to talk about something silly like How To Use 5000 Pounds of Bananas To Terrorize Noisy Neighbors than to try to explain why people would engage in mass murder for political or religious reasons.

The kids and I have had lots of conversations about people and the importance of measuring people based upon their actions and not upon race, religion, color or creed.

I have told them that there are times when we need to be judgmental and that it is not always a pejorative term because smart people pay attention to where they are and who they are with.

We had those conversations when they were little and continued right up into the present because I knew the day would come in middle and high school when they would encounter situations without mom and dad that would require smart decisions.

Because sooner or later they would be around kids who decided to try shoplifting or abusing substances. Because I knew that there would be good and bad influences and needed to give them the tools to deal with those.

So how does this tie in with 9/11?

It is centered on trying to help my children understand what happened and why. They are old enough to understand the world isn’t black and white and how their old man can support some wars and not others.

It is about helping them recognize that ISIS and Al Qaeda are groups that support and promulgate evil but that not every Muslim is a member of these groups.

There is no collective judgment of a group here and an effort to make sure they understand how you can point your fingers at some and not others.

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Panic Is Unacceptable

Last night my daughter told me that if she had been in the towers she would have screamed and run for the door. I told her that panic is unacceptable.

“When everyone around you is panicking you need to take a deep breath and make the smartest decision you can. Fear makes you act like a fool, don’t be that person.”

And then I told her it didn’t mean you can’t be afraid and that I would be nervous in that kind of situation too.

We talked about how and why some of the people jumped out of the towers. I told her that since we weren’t there we couldn’t say for certain whether the jumpers had an opportunity to get out or whether it was simply their choice of how to die.

“I won’t say whether they made a smart choice or not because I wasn’t there but I know that keeping a cool head is the only way to make a smart decision.”

Obviously I hope and pray we are never placed in the kind of position in which we find out what we would do if we faced a life or death situation.

But I am confident that the push to promote staying calm is the right thing to do.

What Have We Lost?

Some of the boys and I chew on the same old argument about civil liberties and what we lost.

We agree about a loss of innocence and that fear has caused issues that we all face and disagree in other areas. I don’t believe the terrorists have given up and think caution is an appropriate measure.

But the extent to which it is needed and what steps need to be taken is hard to say. I am happy to give up some things for more security, but the rub lies in the how and what.

*****

The day of the Newtown shooting my son told me that I didn’t need to worry about him because in most of his classes he sat next to the door and was confident he could run outside.

I almost howled in anger and frustration because no parent should have to hear such a thing and no child should ever have to learn how to act in a lockdown drill at school.

Little Jack, who is no longer quite so little didn’t hear my anger, instead he heard me remind him of the importance of staying calm.

Panic is our enemy.

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If there is one thing that jumps out at me now it is that one of the gifts of 9/11 was fear and it’s still with us to this day.

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