In these last few weeks, people around the world have turned their hearts and minds back to the horrible tragedy of 9-11. The images of that fateful day in 2001 are seared into the back of most Americans’ minds. On that day, those who were not able to volunteer at the three sites to help with rescue and recovery were glued to their television sets hoping and praying that the visions of hate and intolerance they were witnessing were somehow not real. The reality was too much to fathom.
Like many others, I have spent the last few days reflecting upon the faces of the 9-11 victims of hate; trying to imagine the loss their families have been forced to endure. These moments have also caused me to recall former atrocities and the destructive paths of hatred: the holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, to name but a few. How does one respond to it all? What can be said? How can we make the world a better place? While I don’t have easy answers to any of these questions, I do know that I must try to find a response. I think that it is every human being’s responsibility to fight against intolerance of any kind. That is why I am so excited about the Embracing Differences public art initiative. I believe the students’ expressions about acceptance and celebration of diversity will inspire the community. Art has always been a medium that has pushed for positive social change. There is so much potential in the younger generation to build a better world. The possibilities that lie within them bring me hope.
This week, I was moved by artist Ned Cartledge’s piece titled Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Bushel. Check it out (click to enlarge photo and use back arrow to return to this page). It spoke to me in so many different ways. At first, the light creeping out from under the overturned bushel-basket made me think of all the human potential the world lost on 9-11. What discoveries, advancements, love, and life will the world never know because so many people’s lives were cut short that day? Upon further viewing, that light spoke to me in a different way. Yes, someone had obviously tried to cover up the light–but had they been successful? Look at the piece more carefully…the light is pushing its way out regardless of its encasements. That was the message Cartledge’s piece gave me, and it is the one I choose to use to memorialize the tragedy of 9-11. The darkness of hatred will never win. The light will prevail.
—Leitzel Schoen, Glenn Institute for Philanthropy & Service Learning
For those interested in curriculum or media resources that expand upon the 9-11 incident, check out this blog’s In the News section and the Resources & Links section.