What I Know

Posted: September 11, 2013 in editorial, essay
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

world trade center tribute - dan cabral

photo by Dan Cabral

As a boy raised in New York, and of Puerto Rican-American heritage, I was ridiculed, teased, shunned because of the color of my skin. I wished to myself and through little boy tears to not be Latino. I confessed to my mother how much I didn’t want to be brown. She helped dry those tears and also helped me to look past color and prejudice, to ignore and rise above hurtful stares and comments. Until finally, I was not only proud of my heritage, but also joyful of being human.

What I know, 

As a former member of the U.S. Air Force, I was stationed at various places around the world, including Europe and the Middle East. In each and every place I witnessed people, all with their own struggles, loves, choices. All trying to understand this difficult, sometimes unforgiving experience called life. I saw children, parents, sisters, brothers. In every culture, no matter how foreign to my ignorant eyes, I saw families, loved, coveted, cherished. Hopeful at being human.

What I know,

is that as different as people may be perceived, we are just as similar. We try to judge, to give excuses for being angry, and some excuses can seem extremely valid. But what I know is we ALL make choices in our lives. Honey mustard or mayonnaise, crunchy peanut butter or jam, to take the subway into work at the World Trade Center or at the Pentagon or stop at the corner gas station or not. And all our choices are made freely, never knowing what the Powers-That-Be have in mind for us. I could step off the curb tomorrow and a drunk driver or stressed out mom or young teenager racing his friends, or a crazed maniac with an axe to grind for all life has dealt him might end my life. And yet, I still make the choice to step off the curb, with this knowledge in mind, I enjoy my life as much as possible, with zest, with verve, with passion…being human!

What I know,

And what I do with all this knowledge, all this experience, is perhaps unpopular, is usually unpopular, especially now. I  CHOOSE to forgive. Yes, that’s right. I forgive Osama bin Laden and all those dictators who wish to harm and kill, I forgive their following for their role in this tragedy and other tragedies they may have committed. I was reminded, after much angry thoughts and seething ideas of retribution the day of September 11th, 2001 that to answer this insane violence with more insanity, begets more violence, more insanity. So, I’ve decided to propose peace. I will make a start, perhaps alone, to envision peace, to imagine it encompassing the world. Instead of God bless America, I propose God bless the Earth. The only path to REAL peace is not war, but dialogue, understanding, forgiveness and as blind as the world may be to this simple concept, this simple hope, the only real method of attaining true peace….is love. Give it some thought. And when the anger has subsided, when the seething desire for destruction has abated, all I know is what I envision, for myself, for my children, for my children’s children. It starts with one person, it starts with me, this human…being. I embrace all life, all ideals, all beliefs. And try to remember, if you can, that we are one. We Are One.


Rod C. Stryker, poet

San Antonio, Texas, United States, North America,

Planet Earth.

This was written years ago, but it is just as relevant today as it was on September 11, 2001. May the world know real peace.

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