Editor's note: This is one in a series of commentaries by Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the Character Counts! coalition. He will speak Monday in Lawrence.
It's hard to believe that we've passed the third anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The world is so different now. Please, set aside some time to review stories and images of that horrendous event and think about how you and our society have changed.
On a political level, consider how fear, anger, a desire for retribution evoked by that day of infamy, and our ongoing efforts to protect ourselves from future acts of terror have affected national policies and political values. Consider whether "war on terrorism" rhetoric has masked subconscious changes in your concept of or commitment to values like justice, civil liberty, and the worth and dignity of every human being regardless of ideology, religion, race or nationality.
On a personal level, try to revitalize positive emotions like gratitude and admiration for first responders, compassion and empathy for each and every victim (including those being maimed and killed daily in Iraq), and a sense of national unity that transcends political boundaries.
Let 9-11 memories remind you of the frailty of life and the importance of finding greater meaning, purpose and fulfillment through your relationships and work. If you decided to reorder your priorities to elevate family, personal integrity and spiritual growth after the attacks, be sure you're being faithful to that commitment.
It's a sad but undeniable fact that a tiny band of fanatics has dramatically changed the way we live and think, but it doesn't have to be all negative. If we commemorate our great loss of life and innocence by a greater awareness of the noble glory of our traditional political ideals and a deeper commitment to live worthy lives and pursue lofty goals, we will be all the better for the experience.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.