First. I had surgery today. There is a cyst that’s been bothering me on my lip for the past three months and after several trips to dentists and dermatologists, I decided it was time to see an oral surgeon. The waiting room reminded me of a 1970’s office with blue plastic furniture and yellowed blinds. I sat with my hands folded in the patient chair while the surgeon explained the procedure and the risks (discomfort was the biggest… so you can tell this was a mild surgery). Then I prepared myself for the novocaine, the only part that really terrifies me about medical procedures. The feeling that comes with the initial shot is a loss of feeling, to eliminate the potential pain we might experience. This sensation is called “numb.”
Today of course is the 16th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001. Last year on this day, I was frantically sharing the media pieces that the Revolutionary Love team had put together in honor of the 15 year mark. 15 felt like a big milestone, perhaps because 5-year increments do, perhaps because the impending election trumpeted hateful rhetoric reminiscent of the days and months and years after the attacks. But this year as I sat dreading the needle that would make my whole face feel nothing, I wondered if we as a nation have shifted to a kind of numbness after this pivotal moment in history.
“No,” I quickly decided. There may be fewer media pieces and ceremonies, but the calls to action for help in hurricane relief and fighting white supremacy are not so different than calls to affirm our Muslim neighbors and to practice compassion. Further and perhaps more importantly, as impactful as a single moment can be, sixteen years later we should not ignore the effects this days has had on every day following. Not to mention the deep-seeded racism and xenophobia the attacks helped to expose to those oblivious.
This evening I met the new Revolutionary Love Project team and I feel like I did last year on our first team call. Recognizing that we have our work cut out, I feel grateful that we may be angry and scared, but we still believe in our message. That is not “numbness.” That is genuine, blessed feeling.