Bin Laden’s Impact on The Tapestry


I asked my daughters this morning (they’re 10 and 5 years old) if they knew who Osama Bin Laden was, or if they knew the significance of his death.  They told me they did not.  I had to think back: how much have I spoken to them about what’s going on in this world?  About the global impact of one man’s actions?

My oldest was just a few months old when I found myself in Manhattan, about to attend class at City College of New York, when I walked into the crowded student center and saw the first tower fall.  I didn’t know it at the time, (nor would I until the list of victims’ names appeared in the paper weeks later) but a very dear friend of mine, Celeste Torres, was in that tower.  I knew then that her daughter, about to start her freshman year at college that fall, was irreparably scarred.  I realized even then, as the towers fell, that not only thousands were dying before my eyes, but an  incalculable number of connected lives: family, loved ones, friends…were being changed forever.  This moment dividing lives into “before” and “after” like a curtain between rooms.  All through the thoughts and actions of one man…connecting to thousands of others.

I didn’t know what to say to them, so I simply told my girls a quick version of the story of how Tori (my oldest) was in her crib at home when Daddy experienced a day in which he had to wait endless hours on Manhattan amidst the great confusion and disturbance of 9/11, and how grateful he was to see her at the end of a historic day.  And tell Chrissy, his youngest daughter, how grateful he was that he was no longer working near or visiting (as he had often done) the towers on that day, so that he would one day be her Daddy.

But as the hour approaches when I will pick them up from school today, it occurs to me that there is another story to tell.  If one man can pull the threads of the tapestry of our lives with such devastating results, couldn’t they also pull on the same tapestry to bring about incomprehensible good?  Could I not teach them that they, with the grace of God, are the skeins through which the tapestry is weaved?  That they have POWER?  That because of that power they have the responsibility to THINK about how they pull the strings?

Though Osama Bin Laden may have thought of death and destruction as his mission, I submit to you that he is only another strand…connected though we may despise it…to all of us.  It’s up to US, to use that connection…and twist it within the tapestry to create BENEVOLENCE.  We can do that by teaching our children that no matter their intentions, their actions have power.  And their actions affect the lives of all of us, even if they don’t understand how.  Osama Bin Laden didn’t have to know Celeste Torres to change her daughter’s life forever.  Just as my children don’t have to know yours.

I will teach my girls to pull the strings of the tapestry for your children’s benefit.  What will you teach yours?

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