For a great many of us, much of our lives are spent deeply immersed in the challenges of working globally, growing and nurturing our businesses and all the while trying to make sense of a seemingly never ending and ever-shifting and mutating economic landscape. A veritable ‘ball of confusion’, as the old song went. Our lives are far from uneventful, although the events – internal or external – are for the most part small, transitory, fleeting. They make ripples of differing sizes, but they fade and pass, the ripples overwritten by the next passing moment.
But not all events are made equal. Some can, in themselves, be over in mere hours, yet their impact is felt not just far and wide, but deeply and for years afterwards. Their impact is all the greater because they rob us of any belief or hope that our lives are under our control: they change what we have previously been able to think or understand. Events on this greater scale are not the shifting of sands beneath our feet as we make our way forward through our lives: they are drastic, jarring moments that completely re-arrange our landscape and our outlook. 9/11, the tenth anniversary of which occurs this Sunday, is one of those – mercifully – rare events.
A beautiful September morning in America with unusually clear blue skies turned, in the space of little over two hours, into something that – though many have written about it since – ultimately remains beyond the power or scope of words. Images of those events, replayed or reprinted uncountable times since, remain truly shocking: repetition has not inured us to them. Even for those of us mercifully untouched directly by the events of that fateful day, it is still a raw moment, and one whose impact around the world continues to be felt.
For those more directly affected – not just by the events of the day, but the ripples and repercussions that were to follow – 9/11 must remain an unthinkably painfully moment in which lives were irrevocably changed. Kazusada Sumiyama’s only child, Yoichi, was among the 24 Japanese citizens who died that day (9/11 claimed the lives of civilians from 90 countries). Now retired, he finds it difficult even to read newspapers as they carry reports of terrorism incidents around the world, but dedicates much of his time to ensuring that those who live on do not forget what happened that day. Speaking to Kyodo News in 2004, he said “”I want to create opportunities for remembrance.”
This Sunday is a moment when it is entirely appropriate that we all find the space to do so in our thoughts.