Monday, 12 September 2011

Our World Tuesday - Remembering New York

I’m posting these images and words with a clear understanding of what these days mean to so many, many people. Not just people in the USA, but people all around the world. The September 11 attack was the break-point for a tsunami of violence that washed away life, after life, after life on the day itself and then spread far from New York, Arlington, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The waves from that day continue to claim lives.

As a kid I grew up knowing that every box by the side of the road, every strange parked car, could be a fiery gift left by fanatics. But what happened on September 11 was beyond anything that seemed possible. This kind of thing happened “elsewhere”, and the mindset of the people involved seemed to come from an “elsewhen” – as if the enlightenment had not happened and people still viewed the world as the play-thing of distant, but still persuadable, gods.

I do not think that the response to these attacks should be tied to any country, creed, religion or flag – it should grow out of a personal commitment by all of us to do good and to challenge simple minded solutions and violence wherever they are found. Surely, if we are honest, we can do better for the world and its people than we have managed to do to this point. What could we achieve if all the talent, energy, skill and bravery that was shown on the terrible day, and in the days that have followed, had been turned into something other than war?

What would have happened if we had spent the last ten years arming people with knowledge and a real sense of possibility rather than with guns and bombs? How many of the “best and the brightest” can we afford to lose? Each time a person dies a small strand in the great web of the unknowable possibilities of the world breaks with them. “How would life have ever been the same if this wall had carved in it one less name?” as it has been said in a way that I could never manage.

It is spring in Australia, a season of growth and reconnection. If we refuse to tolerate intolerance and if we admit that well educated children are the hope of the world, then maybe, just maybe, the next ten years will be better than the last.


I am posting two pictures of New York – both from 1995. I arrived in the city by water, although I am not able to explain how this can be true. The skyline of the city was lit up with search lights flashing from helicopters and the roads were full of the flashing lights of police cars. It looked like some future, imagined city. It looked like a scene from Blade Runner. I had managed to arrive at the same time as the Pope. This was not a good plan. I walked the streets seeing things in real life that I had only seen on TV. My neck grew stiff from looking up at the towers that seemed to climb impossibly from the streets. The buildings were bigger than anything I had ever seen. The portions of food were bigger than anything I had ever seen as well!

I sat in café’s full of police officers dressed in what seemed to be TV costumes – but it was real. I was on the way to Australia to start a new life. Although I did not know it then this has led to two red-headed children, marriage and a new life. Like many others before me, I passed though New York on the way to somewhere better.

That’s how I remember New York : as a gateway to the unknown possibility of the future.

You can find more places from around the world here at Our World Tuesday.

(And it has just occurred to me that the shift to the collective “Our World” from the singular “My world” seems to the kind of change I’m talking about and hoping for.)


  1. very nice post, stewart. my favorite line: Each time a person dies a small strand in the great web of the unknowable possibilities of the world breaks with them.

  2. A very moving post, Stewart, and I do so agree with you! Yesterday was sad in many ways and reliving the horror of that day was gut wrenching. My hope is that someday we can move past the hate and intolerance and reweave that web of unknowable possibilities. Have a good week!


  3. A lovely tribute post Stewart and I agree.

  4. A touching post, Stewart. I hope someday there will be peace in the world. But it is still a day I will never forget.

  5. I also hope that the future holds a better understanding between cultures, but as long as there are radicals on either side, I am afraid it is a forlorn hope.

    I'll never forget that day, sitting at traffic lights at Butchers Corner, Malton, listening to the announcement on radio of the first plane to hit the tower. My blood ran cold. I wrote a commemoration poem in 2003, that is on my Jacselsknit-n-krochet blog.

    Quote: "The portions of food were bigger than anything I had ever seen as well!"
    I know just what you mean, the first time I was taken to Denny's for breakfast I thought it would be lunchtime before we even got through the ordering, so many ways to have your eggs, so many types of bread, etc., etc.,

    I like your second photo, where was it taken from, one of the towers, or the Empire State building?

  6. Great blog Stewart, and the key is educated children!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  7. An inspiring article Stewart. I am i full agreement with the sentiments you express. Understanding and empathy with each other in the human family would go a long way to making Our World a much better place.
    Blogging in a very small way shows us that intrinsically we are all the same with the same aspirations, no matter where we live or how we look.

    Will the violence ever stop, or has it been in the human gene since Cain slew Abel?

  8. A wonderful post! I agree with you - what huge progress we might have made if we had used these past ten years, and all that money and effort, and put it into education and teaching compassion and tolerance.

  9. It is hard to change a species. :(

  10. Great post. Love the top shot.

  11. Very thought provoking post - if there are enough of us that feel the same .... then just maybe. We can but hope and pray.