What I Want To Tell My Generation Today

I don’t think I’ve ever done a September 11th memorial post. I’ve not necessarily avoided it, I just haven’t done it. There are a lot of good reasons not to do it. I don’t generally post outside of my schedule, I don’t want to rehash things that everyone else has said.

Mostly, though, it felt cheap. I felt like, no matter how sincere I was being, people would see a 9/11 post as pandering.

That’s the last thing I want to do, here.

See, I was fifteen on September 11th, 2001. I was a high school student, just two years older than my daughters are now. I didn’t care about much of anything, but I was starting to. I was on the school paper, and I was starting to understand that there was a bigger world than what I’d experienced. That things were happening out there that were every bit as exciting, fascinating, terrifying and heartbreaking as any book I could read. Even more so, because they were real.

I watched my country change after that attack. If you don’t live in America, I need to explain this to you. We don’t get attacked on our own soil by foreign enemies. Usually, our terror is more domestic. So for us to be attacked was to shatter a belief that we couldn’t be touched.

In a way, this was strike two for me. I, like the rest of my peers, lived through the terror after the Columbine shooting a few years before. Never before had I realized that someone my own age could have such hate, such anger inside of them.

We watched, my generation and I, as our elders reacted out of fear. Now that I’m an adult, there are so many things I want to say to my country and to my peers.

I’m going to take some time today, to say those things.

Don’t fear strangers.

Isn’t that something we’re taught so early, to fear strangers? Don’t talk to them, you don’t know them! They might take you away. My mom used to say, “Someone might put you in a car and drive away with you.”

That was the big fear of my childhood, someone putting me in a car and driving away with me.

Turns out that most children abducted are actually taken by family members or friends. Go figure.

I like talking to new people, learning about them. I especially love talking to people who have different religions than mine. I like hearing about it.

Maybe we’d all be in a better position if we’d just talk to other people.

Every demographic has horrible people and heroes

Those kids at Columbine were white, Christian boys. So was the Oklahoma City Bomber.

People do bad things, that’s just the long and short of it. There’s not a single religion or creed that doesn’t have at least one crazy person who killed a lot of people. Except for the Amish. Those people haven’t ever done anything bad. But since they don’t have computers, they’re not reading this. So if you’re reading this, someone in your demographic has hurt a lot of people. Accept it, and stop blaming a whole group for the actions of their crazy people.

Don’t curtail freedom out of fear

This might be my own perception, but I feel like the things you aren’t allowed to say or do have just gotten crazy!

Especially comedians. I’m sick of comedians getting in trouble for telling jokes. If a joke is funny, great. If it’s bad, then that’s a bad comedian, not a bad subject.

This drives me nuts because it means that we’re just reacting because we’re afraid. We’re afraid, mostly, of offending someone.

Now, I’m not saying that some jokes don’t offend me. Rape jokes offend me. But if you have a funny rape joke, go ahead and tell it. I’ll just tell you that you’re an ass. That’s your freedom of speech and mine.

Mental health issues are tragically ignored in this country, and we need to do something about it.

Most of the tragedies in this country come down to one thing; someone with mental health issues that weren’t properly treated.

We can talk about gun laws, and we really should. But the best thing a gun law, properly enforced, can do is to limit the number of people hurt. That alone is enough to make it worth our time, but it still won’t solve the problem.

We can talk about protecting our schools, and we should. I’m all for metal detectors and security guards in schools.

But until mental health is treated like physical health, we’re only fighting half of the battle.

If you feel like you or someone you love is suffering from depression or any sort of mental issue, please seek help. Don’t ignore signs of trouble in your children or other family members. And don’t belittle someone for seeking mental health. Especially not yourself.

Remember that we’re citizens of Planet Earth, and we all need to work together.

Don’t tell yourself that what happens in the rest of the world doesn’t matter to you. What happens in one corner of the world impacts all of us, whether we realize it or not. Reach out to anyone you can help, even a little. If you have a blog, talk to a worldwide audience and give comfort when you can.

Don’t forget that we, the human race, are all in this together. It’s time we started acting like it.

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