Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Be the peace September 11, 2011

Filed under: Commentary,Rotary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:26 am
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Every few months I get an invitation to send a piece to Postmedia news for These are the folks who own the Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Victoria Times Colonist, etc.   In the past, I’ve sent pieces for the federal election and Canada Day. Recently I was asked to contribute something reflecting on 9-11.  It showed up at on Sept 8, and it was re-printed by the Vancouver Sun on Sept 10 (along with the other papers in the syndicate mentioned above).  I have waited for the official anniversary today, so they scooped my own piece!  Here it is.


Sept. 11, 2001. I was dropping my daughter off to start another day in Grade 9. As she left the vehicle, I turned on the radio and heard commentators frantically discussing a building with a tilting radio tower and an airplane. I thought a plane had struck a radio antenna. Then I heard the shock and horror as a second plane flew into the second World Trade Center tower on the day burned into everyone’s consciousness.

Far away from New York, on the shore of beautiful Shuswap Lake, nestled in B.C.’s green hills, we were grieving for office workers, emergency personnel, and the enormity of war coming to the shores of North America. We were full of questions. What would it mean? Who had done this? As we nestled in to nurse our shock, the world went suddenly quiet.

We watched in pride and awe as Gander opened its doors and welcomed the world with Atlantic hospitality, as plane after plane touched down, expulsed their occupants and waited.

For the first time in my life, for three days I could look into a clear blue sky, with no jet exhaust streaked across it.

The world seemed eerily quiet, poised for something to happen. We were watching for invasion forces to come over the hills. We were watching for sleeper cells to wake up and destroy towns. We held our breath, waiting. In high school, my socials teacher had warned us that someday, the huge disparity between our world and the world of the more-populated East was going to bring war to our doorsteps. Was this the moment? We held our breath and waited.

But nothing happened.

Security was tightened at the airports, sure. We sent servicemen and women to the Middle East, and too many of them died there. But whatever we were expecting to happen here in North America, simply didn’t. Whether due to the diligence of U.S. Homeland Security and CSIS furtively working behind the scenes, or whether the terrorists just stopped trying, all has been quiet on the Western front.

A decade later, perhaps we can let out our breath.

A decade later, have we been changed by the destruction of the Twin Towers and the angry fanaticism that led to the attacks in New York, and upon the Pentagon? Have we learned something about the dangers of illiterate fanatics at home and abroad? Are we making a greater effort to ensure poverty and ignorance can’t be manipulated into terrorism and martyrdom? Are we working internationally to encourage peaceful conflict resolution?

When I listen to the individuals sponsored by local Rotary Clubs to study peace and conflict resolution at prestigious universities around the world, I have hope. But they are so few, and the ignorance is so great.

Might can not be right. Words must be mightier than swords. We need peace, before the world is in pieces.

How are you working to be the positive change that protects our future?


3 Responses to “Be the peace”

  1. Bev Q Says:

    “We need peace, before the world is in pieces.” Shawn Bird

    Ahhh … I really like this quote. Good article by the way. Me? I remember going for a walk .. probably the next day … still upset (of course). I passed a fellow on the bike path who had a middle eastern background and was a stranger to me. I remember we both looked at each other and I sensed we both were feeling the pain of what had happened. We both made a concentrated effort to say ‘hi’ as we passed. And in that one tiny word, to me, it seemed we said so much. “We need peace, before the world is in pieces.” Shawn Bird

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      Yes. Then as the photos of Bin Laden started appearing, I kept thinking how much he looked like my dear friend in Toronto. So weird. So surreal. So much pain, horror and death, for nothing. Make music, not bombs!

      • Bev Q Says:

        Yup — know who you mean! Using our talents for positive change seems a much better way. Sometimes it takes longer but that is what patience is all about.

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