What good does it do to fight fire with fire? 

“Beyond each impenetrable expanse of thundercloud obscurity reigns a boundless canopy of brilliant sapphire blue.” Cara Fox

Today, we remember a catastrophic event of modern history. New Yorkers can close their eyes and feel the depths of darkness experienced 17 years ago. For some, it was their first exposure to the personification of Evil. For others, it had confirmed the belief that all is not well. That hell is not a place experienced after death, but is a reality that exists on this Earthly planet, fueled by hatred, anger, fear, and downright indifference towards others.

It has been said that optimism is an intellectual choice. Choices put the locus of control in our hands, our hearts, and out minds. A choice is a decision, and if you are as scientifically minded as I, you know that decisions take time, focus, and effort. Whether your decisions are mediated by your thoughts, your feelings, or a delicate dance of both, they dictate your choices in how you act, or how you react.

What good does it do to fight fire with fire? 

Think about the force of a flame. While a fire has the power to destroy, it also does something quite wonderful. If channeled correctly, a fire can create light and warmth.

On a day like today, many of us gather together sharing our light and warmth with those who have experienced great loss. Loss, however, can still be felt on October 11th, November 11th, and so on. The love we share with others today can serve as a wonderful reminder of the power of camaraderie, thoughtfulness, and compassion towards our neighbors. But what will it take to carry such qualities with us for the remaining 364 days of the year?

9/11 allowed a nation to experience terror as a collective whole, providing a common ground of grief as we all try to pick up the pieces and trudge on. Individuals experience terror in their lives each and every day. We see celebrities battle addiction and depression. We see family members suffer illness and abuse. I ask again, what will it take for us to embody compassion towards others on a daily basis? 

In college, I acquired the nickname Buddha. Some people have found the nature of my being refreshing, while others have noted is as a weakness. For those of you who struggle to choose optimism, compassion, and forgiveness, I want to remind you of the light we all have burning inside of us. While it may be easier to fight fire with fire, all that’s left are ashes. But, if you tend to your flame as you’d tend to a campfire, you will always carry with you a source of warmth and light.

As optimistic as I am, I’m realistic in knowing that there is a force of evil that exists in the world, and that it is here to stay. As individuals, we have the power to choose to succumb to such darkness, or to use that darkness as a reminder to appreciate the light. Use it as a reminder, that although you may not be experiencing such darkness, others are stuck in its clutches and are in need of your warm, shining light.

So, when you wake up on September 12th, make a conscious effort to be as compassionate towards your neighbor as you were today. The ripple effect of empathy can far surpass that of evil.