Healing the scars of New York
Shortly after the twin towers came down from the New York city skyline, it felt to me as if a great fissure opened up under the city. It ran from Ground Zero, up through Times Square and Central Park and all the way into Washington Heights. That great gaping wound has slowly been healing over the past decade but now I can't help wonder if the partying on the edge of that hole in the ground yesterday, where hundreds of people's graves were made, may reopen that wound.
I was about to become a mother here in New York for the first time when it happened. My son kicked and rolled inside of me as the fighter jets circled overhead, and a few days later just as the firemen and rescue volunteers began to give up their hope that any more survivors could be found under the wreckage, he was born.
When hundreds of thousands of people poured into the city in protest, in anger at the war about to be waged in the Middle East, I was angry at their fury. I kept thinking about that great gaping wound under the city and how much it needed to be healed - not pounded upon. Even though I didn't want the war either. Go take your anger elsewhere I kept thinking. Hold your anti- war rallies and anti- terrorism marches someplace else. Hold your political conferences and vengeful rhetoric in DC in the halls of congress, but not here, not yet.
The day the first bombs dropped on Iraq in what was referred to as the "shock and awe" campaign, I lit a candle and nursed my son and thought of all the other mothers around the world nursing their babies at the same time, especially the mothers in Iraq and Afghanistan. I didn't want my son to grow into a world of anger and hate, of revenge and war, where one person is pitted against another. I wanted my son to grow into a world where he and all his future neighbors around the world would be safe and secure to be exactly who they are. I wanted my son to be safe to be American. The angrier everyone got, the more they fueled the fire not put it out.
Yesterday, as the throngs of revelers poured into the city to pound the earth with their celebrations, I felt sick to the stomach once more. Yes the man Osama, the architect of so much hatred and slaughter against all that is good; in both the Muslim world as well as the western world has been taken down. There is no doubt that justice has been done - whether we believe he should have been killed, tried in court or not - Yet, if you wish to celebrate, please take your party elsewhere.
My son is nearly ten now. His best friends have parents from all over the world and we consider ourselves proud to be New Yorkers. Proud to be living in North America. When family and friends encouraged me all those years ago after 9/11 to return home to Europe, I stayed here in New York because I wanted to see the city return to the way I felt it had been once, a beautiful glorious example of what America should be at its best: diverse, accepting, a space to breathe in which each and everyone's dreams had the potential to come true. And so, I nursed my son and happily, proudly have watched him grow from here.
When the towers first fell, hundreds of people came to Ground Zero to circle the site in prayer and mourning. Today I wish hundreds of people from all over the world, would come and circle that site again: only this time let us circle that hole in the ground in prayer and healing.