9/11: What have we learned from the day that changed the world? Lessons for us all 20 years on

What have we learned from the collective shock and grief of 9/11, the event that shook the world two decades ago?

Twenty years on, and it still shocks us to the core.

That horrible moment on a sunny September day when terrorism struck in America and changed our world forever. If you were old enough, you’ll remember exactly where you were when you heard the news.

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We may have moved on, but we don’t forget.

Whether you are grieving a loved one lost, a life not fully lived, or the fear that you are no longer safe, the events on that day, 9/11/2001, are as horrific today as they were then.

Watch those moments again, and you’ll feel the goosebumps as you are transported back in time.

But what have we all learned since that time?

Whilst national security is the responsibility of governments and leaders, we all have a part to play in making each other feel safe. We can do more to look after each other and if we can help strangers in times of crisis, we can help strangers any day of the week.

Here are a few life lessons for us all.

Be inclusive

Until we are tolerant of each other and accept that we are a diverse and different human race, we are forcing people into feeling isolated. And that’s the dark and lonely place where animosity lives, hatred grows and radicalism breeds.

When we listen and try to understand each other, we become more open to acceptance.

Appreciate life: the big things and the small things

If 9/11 - and the pandemic - has taught us anything, it is to appreciate life. But how much of that do we take for granted?

Freedom, health, family and friends, and a home to live in are all things that millions of people would love to have, so perhaps we should value what we do have and spend less time worrying and feeling pressured about what we don’t have.

The seemingly small things become the big things when we no longer have them.

Notice those who often go unnoticed

Only when we are in a crisis do we see the everyday heroes who are there when we need them.

The emergency services, health workers and key workers are working behind the scenes to keep us safe, provide for us and care for us.

And what about the neighbour who checks in on us, or who takes the time to stop for a brief chat?

If we didn’t have this, we’d realise how much it means. So, notice them, notice them all and show your appreciation.

Take the time to say hello and Thank You.

Graphic: Kim Mogg / JPI

Be kind

This has become a cliché, but whatever you want to call it, we need to do it rather than talk about it.

It’s too easy to criticise and, as the number of keyboard warriors show, too convenient to spread hate from a distance.

What do we hope to achieve by doing this? No one wins.

Instead, we can play our part by being kind, listening to others and doing what we can to help.

Being a bystander just won’t cut it.

The least we can do for all those who lost their lives on 9/11 - or in fact, in any other act of hatred, is to repay the heroism and play our part in making the world a kinder, safer, more inclusive place to live. Starting in our own neighbourhood.

And for those of us still here, it’s a brutal reminder to stop wasting time listening to - or spreading - negativity.

We can all think before we speak, we can all choose our words carefully, and we can all do something every day that will mean we never have to experience, even from a distance, such tragedy again.

Amana Walker is a performance coach who works with a range of business leaders and sports professionals. More info at www.amanawalker.com

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