"Heart of Darkness, Heart
Which am I to be tonight?"
A Personal Response to the World
Trade Center Disaster
by William Max Miller
Long ago, I dreamed there was a magic kingdom where the rain had not fallen for many months. All the trees and other green, growing things had withered and perished, and the people and animals wandered in despair through the dry, dust-choked countryside. The curse of drought had fallen on the land, and everything was on the verge of dying. When the end seemed near, the King held a public meeting in the town square, and all the people, animals, birds and insects came together to voice their anguish. The worst had befallen them and the time to say farewell to life and loved ones had finally come. The castle walls had crumbled, and the beautiful kingdom would soon be no more. The people and animals looked at each other in sorrow, and their grief began to overwhelm them. Tears rose from their hearts and filled their eyes, and all of them prepared to see each other die. And as the people cried together, the hot, dry, moisture-hungry air began to absorb their many tears. The air took the tears from the people & the animals, from the birds and the insects which flew, and drank them all into itself. And the many tears condensed in the sky, filled the air with moisture, and began to fall to the thirsty earth as raindrops. Rain fell again upon the magic kingdom, and as its citizens rejoiced, a mighty rainbow arched across the life-giving sky above them....Out of the problem itself shall come the solution. Within sorrow hide the keys to joy. Our tears open the way for a new self which can find a different way to a new world of happiness.
For me, September
11'th of this year was a day which crossed the threshold of normal bad news and
shattered the wall of complacency which insulates us from primal, archetypal
truths. The awful images which filled the airwaves that day and continue to
haunt the anima mundi--the collective minds and souls of the world--were
so powerful that ordinary reality broke apart and something from the ultimate
depths emerged into the daylight, something which must be acknowledged, faced
and assimilated into the fabric of the new kind of person we all must now
Everyone, of course, remembers the carnage and destruction which they beheld as those mighty towers fell burning to the ground. This dark image symbolizes all that is evil in the world and in ourselves. With cruel and overwhelming eloquence, it told us of the blind, selfish darkness which can emerge from human nature. I remember watching in horror as the Towers fell, raining death and destruction on thousands. As I sat with my eyes riveted to the TV, I remembered Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, the Death Camps, all the other atrocities which people like me have done to one another, and I despaired that I was human. I felt ashamed to belong to a species capable of such depravity, and turned my eyes to the ground in grief over the flawed human nature which is my inheritance. But then I raised my eyes in time to see an image that blazed bright like a supernova against the blackness of that terrible day. Images of people leaping to their deaths from the upper stories of the Towers were being shown, and among them appeared a man and a woman jumping together, holding hands.
I watched them fall together, hand in hand, toward their ultimate Fate. What a terrible death they had. But what a beautiful message those clasped hands conveyed to the world, a message of light more powerful than all those of darkness which we saw on that day. In spite of the smoke and the burning heat of the flames, in defiance of the fearful height and the awful terror of personal destruction, in the very face of death itself, these two people had reached out to each other. With their clasped hands, they said to one another: "I am here for you. I will face this with you. You are not alone with this." That unknown man and woman met a horrible and tragic end, but the manner in which they chose to meet it was a triumph. It transfigured all the horror of September 11'th into a background against which something noble, loving, compassionate, and filled with goodness had appeared. For while the burning Towers symbolized the worst in humankind, the clasped hands of that couple symbolized the very best of what we are, and showed us that the light within us is bright enough to outshine evil, brave enough to face & overcome death itself, and strong enough to touch and comfort the lives of others with its love.
On September 11'th, Destiny revealed to us a dual symbol which displayed the full spectrum of human potential. At the low end of the spectrum, we saw the ultimate selfishness and evil that we are free to bring into this world. At the other end, the higher end, we saw the unconditional, unselfish love that we are also capable of freely giving. Because of the events of that day, we have all reached a crossroads where we must make a choice and take a final stand. At which end of the spectrum shall we choose to live?
Am I the only one who saw a dual symbol in those images of the World Trade Center in flames on September 11'th? A dual symbol of extreme contrast, of both great darkness and great light? I need to know if anyone else saw what I saw. I feel I have to share the thing I noticed on that day. Please feel free to respond to me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org