Americans have notoriously short attention spans. Our penchant for the “next great thing” has kept us moving forward for more than two centuries. We have been in the forefront of virtually every cutting-edge trend in technology, medicine, culture and life-style.
And though you are tired of hearing it (I rest my case), things changed on September 11.
We must become more aware of the circumstances of our surroundings. It is no longer a casual matter if a parcel or handbag sits abandoned. The hectic pace of our lives will slow as we wait in line at security check points. Open access to public and not-so-public buildings may be a thing of the past. And we should prepare to provide identification for more than cashing a check.
These changes and others are not merely short-term inconveniences. They are permanent.
How will these changes impact our state of mind? I believe that they will integrate and become second-nature to most of us over time. Human beings have adjusted to city living, rapid transportation, computers and Regis Philbin, all of them becoming part of the normal and natural knowledge base of our lives. They took time and encountered resistance, but in the end, they became part of our pattern of living.
All change is difficult. And especially when these changes come to familiar places – like the synagogue – there is a period of adjustment and frustration to be expected.
And, frankly, there is a period of sadness not easily dismissed. The carefree innocence we lost on September 11 was, in a sense, childhood’s end. But unlike the transitions parents and children endure alone, in this transition we have a lot of company. The importance of a community of joy and support is magnified, not just in the short-term aftermath, but especially in the long haul.