Darkness became light.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

Desmond Tutu

Darkness fell upon America 15 years ago today.

I remember the darkness often.  The times that I am walking down the street and see a plane that seems to be flying a little too close over Manhattan.  Or when I hear more than a couple sirens from firetrucks at one time.  Even on the days when the weather is perfect – mild temperature, no humidity with a sky as blue as a robin’s egg.   On most occasions it leaves my mind within a few minutes, but sometimes it sticks with me a little longer.

But then there are the things that remind me of the days, weeks and months following September 11, 2001.  Those are the days I want to remember – the memories I hold onto so the feeling lingers.  The days when I had an incredible belief in humanity and our country.   I seek out those days now – by smiling at a stranger on the street or going out of my way to hold the door open for the new mother struggling with her stroller.  That reminds me of the light I saw after 9/11 and I hope that it reminds that stranger and mother too.

It is our responsibility as individuals and a society to bring the light but it is often so much easier to find the darkness.  We read about it every morning when we wake up and check out our favorite news feed that has been curated by an algorithm of our past views.  We listen to it as we travel to work via the satellite radio station that offers a one sided view of everything.  Or we watch it on television as people belittle each other to make themselves look smarter.   The darkness numbs us and if we do take a second to consider how things could be different, we often feel that there is nothing that we can do as an individual that will make a positive impact, so we end up staying in the dark.

But if you really stop and think about it, just one person can bring another person the light they are looking for, the hope that they crave.  From experiences that make one second of a person’s life easier, to movements that have changed the world, it has been one person’s decision to make things better for someone or something else that has made a difference.  While it cannot be guaranteed that it will make a difference at that particular moment – the fact that you tried, and that you keep trying – is what matters.  It is what will bring the light into the world.

Nicole Riggs