People notice the event itself and often overlook what the event means.
We have recently seen the pomp and ceremony surrounding the anniversary of the attack on the twin towers. It rightly brings to mind the heroism of first responders, the losses of the families of victims, the community of people who supported the passengers on grounded airplanes, and the heroism of the passengers on flight 93. These relate to the event itself. To 9-11
Humans are a remarkably resilient lot. They learn from historic events and they build their future on their understanding of those events. In terms of history, 9-11 is an important event. In terms of humanity 9-12 is important. 9-12 represents the idea that you take what has happened, find the reasons as best you can, decide on a course of action to mitigate future similar problems and implement those actions. 9-11 is history. 9-12 is the future.
Notice the 9-12 decisions. Were the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan good ideas? Maybe not. But in the beginning they were a popular response if not a particularly cerebral one. You hit me, I will hit you back harder. Schoolyard justice.
Just as with the American responses to the 9-11 event, you make mistakes.
Your personal life plans have9-11 and 9-12 moments. You failed history in grade 12. Your girl dumped you. You got fired. You suffered and illness or injury. No one bought your book. Someone stole your car. What did you do about those? In retrospect, what should you have done?
The retrospection is the key. Retrospection gives you insight into how you can prevent bad things happening in the future. If I had done the major essay in history on time I would have passed. If I had not gotten drunk and tried to dive into the pool from the garage roof, I would not have hurt myself. I knew I would hate my boss, I should not have taken the job. All easy analysis. 9-11 was harder, but it could have been anticipated.
There was a 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. The Americans abandoned the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan once the Russians left. Even though the Americans and Europeans developed the oil resource in the Middle East, they treated the locals as inferiors. It is not reasonable to believe that some people did not see a backlash as inevitable. What could have been done to minimize the problems?
Your life works like that too. It works especially well if you study the experience of others. Possibly someone could have told you that leaving your keys in the car is not a smart move. If you can anticipate the future, you can avoid or minimize the damage or you can earn gains by taking advantage of situations presented to you.
In life we know that what happens to you is not as important as how you react to it. 9-11 is the lesson. 9-12 and following is what you do about it. Be objective.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
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