This article first appeared in The Durango Herald.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help yourself by reaching out to others
By Jennifer Reeder


In the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy, Americans have been united in their response: "What can we do? How can we help?"

This feeling was immediately evident in the long lines at blood banks, the number of well-attended vigils and services, and the fact that stores sold out of American flags. We are at a turning point in our nation as citizens are joined in grief, as well as the wish to contribute to our country in some way. If we can find a way to hold onto our collective sense of altruism in the face of such a horrible situation, maybe some good can come from this tremendous loss. Then the deaths of our loved ones - like my family friends, the Angells, who died on American Airlines Flight No. 11 - won't be a total waste.

I couldn't make any sense of their deaths; still can't, to be honest. Lynn was a librarian who taught me to love reading when I was 8 years old by introducing me to books of Greek mythology. She, my mom and their friends formed a group of women who would try snowboarding, go cross-country skiing and golf together.

David and my dad are writers who enjoyed each other's company, which is convenient when your wives are so close. The only consolation I get from the Angells' deaths in an airplane that collided with the World Trade Center is that they loved each other so much and were together for the ordeal. Still, it doesn't make sense.

Lynn and Dave would not have wanted their deaths to spark a period of hate and retribution, and would be disgusted to see innocent Arab Americans being threatened and harassed. I believe they'd want something good to come from their deaths, and America seems to have the momentum necessary for this, as citizens try to help each other cope.
Healing takes many forms; I hope our resolve to mend our battered nation will stay strong even as the shock of Sept. 11 begins to ease with time.

Here are some things we can do:
-Get in touch with a friend you haven't talked to in awhile.
-Smile at a stranger (and not just the cute single ones).
-Buy dinner or a round of drinks.
-Be quick to say, "I love you," and mean it. Same for "I'm sorry."
-Baby sit for free - your friends could use some time alone together.
-Plant a tree or flower with someone important to you.
-Don't make jokes that could offend anyone.
-Give your partner a break when you've had a bad day.
-Learn about local charities and make a donation or volunteer.
-Refrain from violence - we're all angry, but compassion and strength are more appropriate now.
-Say "thank you" to your waitperson; look grocery store clerks in the eyes.
-Send an unexpected gift, however small.
-Really listen when someone's talking - don't just think of what you'll say next.
-Be slow to judge another's lifestyle. We're all in this together.
-Look around and appreciate something - a river, a photograph, a constellation.
-Pray, meditate, observe a moment of silence - whatever it takes to envision the way you think the world should be.

If we all do this, how can we not succeed?


Jennifer Reeder, a new Durango resident, is a free-lance journalist and a volunteer at Alternative Horizons.