The second day of the school year began as wemight expect. My two sons, age 7 and 9, were fascinated by teh infinite potential
of new school supplies - the glistening white paper, notebooks that snapped to attention like soldiers upon command, pencils
sharpened to precision points, and of course, the fruit-scented erasers. My biggest challenge was to get to children to pack
their new supplies rather than admiring them like jewels in a Smithsonian exhibit.
Then the phone rang. My social
work colleague, a trauma-reponse practitioner, was babbling incoherently about airplane crashes, burning buildings, and terror
in the skies while she navigated through Los Angeles morning traffic. Her words made no sense. The horror or her narrative
quickly took form as I watched the TV screen import images of violence into our lives.
I attempted to grapple with
the uncertainlty before me and create a space for others to do so as well. That meant different things for different folks.
I fretted aobut protecting my sons from a potent, yet invisible enemy. My children needed reassurance that they would be
safe away from home. My father, now retired, lamented that his office colleagues int ehWorld trade Center were not yet accounted
for. My students viewed their future as uncertain and at-risk. Some faculty colleagues wanted to cancel class to acknowledge
the tremendous loss. All of us experienced devastation.
My students and I decided that courageous and critigal thinking
was a worthy antidote to tragedy. We pledged to mourn and mobilize. suddenly the need to examine paradigms and conflicting
worldviews in HBSE becomes quite evident. Our role as global citizens is up for re-examination. It's no longer business
as usual. We need to rethink our place in the world.
Our profession can help. Social work's investment in culturally
competent and ethical practice helps us to challenge our own tendencies to fear those who differe from us. Our commitment
to personal and professional self-awareness will remind us of our own vulnerabilities as we care for others.
social work cohort decided to do something. With the help of our state NASW office, we organized a forum on our profession's
reponses to this tragedy. We examined Representative Barbara ZZLee's (D-CA) lone and dissenting vote in Congress in light
of Jane Addam's commitment ot peace. We learned aobut social workers' responses as clinicians, policy makers, teachers, and
Finally that day ended in exhaustion and disbelief. The next morning, my youngest son told me that he dreamed
the "bad person who crashed the planes" was in a schoolroom. The police came, took him to jail, and he will never
hurt anyone again. It is my dream that our national and global anguish be resolved with the precision and justice displayed
int eh reconciling mind of a sleeping child.