It Shouldn’t Have To Take A Tragedy (a response to 9/11)

By Andrew Grant

A Reflection on Sept 11 2001 Twin Towers Terrorist Attack by Andrew Grant

No One Is An Island …

“It has become a time of homecoming and housecleaning,  of  fathers calling their estranged sons and making confessions, trying to put things right, old friends getting past small grudges that don’t matter anymore…” (Time Magazine Oct 1 2001)

“Now, since we are family for the next few hours, I’ll ask you to turn to the person next to you, introduce yourself, tell them a little about yourself, and ask them to do the same.”

One would be excused for mistakenly thinking that this paragraphs above was a welcoming call from a priest in a church to his congregation, or a preschool teacher talking to her class – but no, it is the new voice of airline pilots talking to their passengers. 

Is this the personal level of customer service that many companies have been striving for, for decades? Who would have thought that it would have come from the airline industry?  It has been more usual for customers to bury their heads in magazines and movies when they sit next to total strangers for hours, while the airline staff struggle to get through, “Do you want chicken or fish”, several hundred times. Each individual now has something far greater in common – all are keen to get to the end of the journey – alive. Our fate has become inextricably linked to all of those around us, and it is this realisation that has motivated people everywhere to work together for a higher goal.

The current international crisis has shown us all the need to put our goals in perspective. Perspective is one of the greatest things we can learn in life, one of the most important things we can teach our children. What to value, what something is worth, what to invest in, what to take and what to leave behind …

What really matters …

CNN’s new network chairman Walter Isaacson had said prior to September 11 that news should be “fun and fascinating”. Since that date, he seems to have had a change in perspective. He has more recently been reported as saying, “The terrorist attacks were a wake-up call to the public and a lot of us in the news business that there are certain things that really matter more than the latest trivial thing that can cause a ratings boost”.

It is a shame that it has taken such a tragedy to bring these values to the attention of the masses. Psychologists in the US have warned viewers not to look at the footage of the WTC explosions too many times, saying it will leave a lasting visual impact in many people’s minds. The hope should be that if there is any lasting impression it would be of the importance of putting things in perspective and working for the common good of the people we find ourselves with on a daily basis.

In the New York Times Maureen Dowd has written, ”It seemed like yesterday that Americans inhabited a paradise of trivia, wallowing in celebrity, consumerism and cosmetic-surgery advances but now primal threats have forced us to turn to primary questions.” So much that was precious to Americans has died, but in its place has something new grown?

Motivating people to work together …

  In any situation it has been proven that if you want people to reach a higher standard then they need to have a higher vision. What we have seen over this time is the fact that when people have a common goal that outweighs their individual goals then they are capable of functioning much better together and achieving more. Perspective is the vital element.

There are plenty of other ways to motivate people to work together (tragedy shouldn’t need to be the incentive) but the principles are the same – create a common goal for people to strive towards and help them put things in perspective.

© Andrew Grant


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