Eighteen years after the deadliest terror attack in US history which killed nearly 3000 people and injured thousands more I wonder what it means to our collective conscience.

Eighteen years is a long time and while I can still vividly recall that day I know there are a bunch of young people walking around to whom 9/11 means very little. Maybe they were very young, maybe they weren’t even born yet. In some ways it’s just another marker of mortality.

Each year I mark this day with a blog post, the last few of which have drawn the contrast between the unified national heartbreak and resolve of September 12th, 2001, with the seemingly ever-widening gap developing in our nation driven by political, cultural and social ideology and 2019 is no different.

It’s a disturbing trend and one which seems to be getting worse, not better.

Per usual, you won’t find anything political here, due in large part to the polarizing nature of said politics. In an age where we seem to have lost the ability to enter into meaningful and respectful discussions with those with whom we disagree, I find it best to just stick to fishing which is generally a safe subject but if you look hard enough for outrage and controversy I guess you can find it just about anywhere!

Tribalism runs rampant and it’s easy to get sucked in. It’s easier to dismiss those with differing viewpoints as being uninformed or backwards or just plain stupid than it is to actually engage in meaningful discussion and have our viewpoints challenged.

But then again if only we could just silence all of those stupid Democrats, Republicans, independents, Pro Life, Pro Choice, NRA, wealthy, Anti-gun, Pro 2nd Amendment, fly anglers, gear anglers, wolf lovers, hunters, trappers, tree huggers, ranchers, SJW’s, outfitters, libertarians, conservatives, liberals….do you see where this is going?

The legacy of 9/11 is far reaching and affects our everyday lives in ways we don’t even realize. There’s the legacy of health issues for the rescue and recovery workers resulting from exposure at Ground Zero. There’s the legacy of expanded government surveillance and shrinking personal freedom in the name of national security. There’s the legacy of grief for the thousands who lost loved ones on that day. There’s the legacy of war and the legacy of a post 9/11 world in which the TSA and Department of Homeland Security exist and are well known to all of us.

Couldn’t the legacy also be one where we recognize that the attack that day defined us not as democrats or republicans, black or white, rich or poor etc but instead as Americans? It’s worth remembering that the attacks on 9/11 drew this nation together. Our differences disappeared, if only for a short time, and we were one.

So maybe take a minute and contemplate what it all means. To me it’s not tribal membership which provides the meaning in my life but rather relationships with actual people. Our relationships with family and friends and the way we treat others are what define us. We’re not defined by nasty tweets or Facebook posts, however bold we think they may be. We’re not defined by our political beliefs, our sexual orientation, our progressive or conservative opinions…we’re not defined by any of it. We are defined by love and our commitment or our unwillingness to show love to those around us regardless of team membership.