In these excerpts from her book "It's Our Sanity!! Conscious Living in an Unconscious World", Dr. Lauren Kennedy-Smith shares her comments on the aftermath of 9/11.
"…While the psychological damage had been done (the images will never fade and are the equivalent of psychic implants), we did what is ostensibly sane. We went back to our habits and responsibilities and to old postures with respect to each other and our place in the world. And, as alluded to above, we continue now in a state of denial and suppression, of nervous anger, and of grief over the loss of what was, and over the reality of what is and might be. And consciously and unconsciously we continue to choose to try to forget.
What we are doing is normal. The human animal adjusts to crises in precise and miraculous ways and, often, this is our heroism. We should be going on, as if we had a choice in the matter, but, were we sufficiently brave or sane or guided, we would go forward in a different, better way. We should be attempting what we should have been attempting all along, and that is to manage our "adjustment" so as to move forward in a way that is better, or wiser, or just kinder. Most who read this will not have had to say goodbye to a loved one in a burning tower by cell phone or lose a family member in the deliberate, mass murder caused by an airline used as an exploding demolition dagger by a madman and madmen we cannot admit to having created. Yet statistics already show that we are less patient with each other, not more, and that we are expressing anger and aggressing more often, not less. We have returned to self-protecting against the intangible and irrational, just as before, but more so.
With our necessary suppression and denial comes a new layer of tension, a new pressure that affects our interactions and our fundamental actions as human beings. It unquestionably affects how we perform at work and how we "perform" in traffic, how we parent and how we partner. Our culture and its imperatives to produce, consume and accumulate have always allowed for the miss-growth of our psyches, for a common insanity. But now, more so than just the day before 9/11, we are dangerously insecure about our places and our potency in our life environments. Thus, our distortions are more extreme. Far from being kinder and more aware of each other, we have further detached from each other and from our Selves and have further reduced our abilities to love, to give, and to contribute. Instead of this being a period during which we individually or collectively commit to trying to put our best heart forward, we are returning to old patterns of irresponsibility, separateness and unaccountability. We could learn from the pain of those who will never be able to absorb and heal as a result of an incomprehensible loss. It would not be difficult to infer our priorities and to commit to the risk of mutual care and respect. This would be the right stuff of our recovery. However, neither recovery nor "self improvement" comes with defensive reversion. And, for the most part, as soon as the open and intense fear for ourselves passed, we returned to the comfortable meanness and real and imaginary competitiveness that define much of our lives."
"…Regardless of the nature of our objectives, whether they be personal or professional, those of us relatively (personally) unscathed by a tragedy of the breadth and consequences of 9/11, should find ourselves more likely to take positive risks to meet them, not less. Returning to the oldest of old, primitive behaviour is both a guarantee of sustained mediocrity and insurance against creative courage and positive change. Our easy, unscathed return to the familiar is also an insult to those who died amid a bloody message to and about our culture and its effect on poorer, historically deprived and resentful parts of the world. Killing can be positioned as "politically correct" and so can organizational abuse and sloppy denial. We need to look up and around us, and inside-out to ascertain what behaviors and principles will induce sanity, not fear and conflict. We further need to dump the panoply of edged civility that is political correctness and really acknowledge individual needs and differences. As both the best communities and best organizations know, we need to understand and accept each other. This is a clearer and more radical message after 9/11, in a new era of unpredictable and virtually unstoppable terrorism. At the very least we have to stop terrorizing each other and find new ways to manage new and old fears custom-made to keep us from each other, and from the essence of ourselves."
from "It's Our Sanity!! Conscious Living in an Unconscious World" , 2nd Edition 2002, copyright Dr. Lauren Kennedy-Smith