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Living in the New Normal Age

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“Wow! It’s even on the first page of the Styles section.”

My teenage daughter and I had been discussing the issue of 9/11 commemoration fatigue.  I had just mentioned, between swallows of cereal, that I recognized the importance of remembrance—she and I had decided to attend a local memorial service on Sunday—but I worried that people who had spent several weeks saturated with 9/11 anniversary news were likely to return to their normal lives on September 12th without another thought to the first responders who are dying of cancer, among others who have had to adjust to a “new normal.” And there it was, an article about 9/11 in the Styles section of The New York Times.

My new normal has been much like yours: taking off my shoes and waiting in long lines at airports, and worrying about suspicious packages left unattended.  But I have also made a conscious effort to change the arc of my professional career since 9/11/01.  Then I was working as a teacher in an elementary school, quite pregnant with my third child and contemplating my maternity leave.  Now I teach World Religions classes to adults and spend much of my rabbinate in conversations with people of other faiths.

I follow interfaith organizations on Twitter; I stalk Parabola magazine on Facebook; I attend as many lectures and events in town as my busy schedule will allow; and I work to establish deep connections and true friendships with “the other.”  If alienation and hatred could lead to the 9/11 attacks then perhaps relationships and education can be the inoculation against a reprise.

A sense of normalcy has emerged in the post 9/11 age for me: I have focused my attention on learning about the experiences and beliefs of other people.  Just this week I started following a new blog about biblical texts that is written by three women—a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim—who are striving to achieve similar normalcy. If you are seeking knowledge of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles and the Quran, I highly recommend reading and responding to their posts.

Maybe someday we will read about them on the first page of The New York Times.

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Comments (1)

This is so true. We must all spend less time focusing on our differences and realizing that we all share the human experience together, and only together will we fully realize our potential.

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