13 years later

Today is 9/11/2014. I am sitting in JFK airport waiting for a flight to Cancun, Mexico at Gate 9 Terminal 1. It’s 6:00AM. I’ve talked about the happenings of 13 years ago many times but a loose end that I’ve always been curious about is the why. As an actor, the most powerful thing that we create in our characters is their motivation. Our acting teacher would always ask “What’s your motivation?” Motivation makes us do things, sometimes stupid, sometimes not. Why did you get up this morning? Your motivation was to get to work because your motivation to go to work is to earn a paycheck and so on. I think about the “why” all the time and its brought about many different perspectives.

Imagine this. You are an actor and you just received the audition of a lifetime, to play the main antagonist in this real life conflict, the one that was brought to the world stage 13 years ago today. How would you play it? You wouldn’t be able to play it evil, after all, no one really believes they are evil. You don’t want this to become a farce. After all, everyone believes that they are the “good guy.” So what is your motivation for doing what you did? Many beginning actors would say that they would not do what their character did. The teacher would say, “but you did.” So how do you justify your actions? What is your motivation? Unfortunately we’ll never know the real “why” behind it, but if you can start making up even crazy reasons you’re halfway there. There is a reason why people do things. I don’t agree with that final thought process in what happened 13 years ago, but I’ve asked myself why this happened and I’ve created many reasons why in my head.

All this leads to a very valuable tool not just in acting, but in business and in life. Empathy. I’ve been very intrigued by this notion lately as I think that it would help us in making the world a better, safer place. In other words, its the “being in your shoes” notion that allows us to understand each other. Sure, you may be upset at a foreign government, you may be upset at someone that looks a certain way, you may be upset with a particular person, but put yourself in their shoes. Why did they do what they did? Can you come up with reasons why besides “they are crazy?” I will never experience what it is to live or grow up outside of the United States. I will never experience what it is to live in constant fear. I will never experience constant war. But what I can do is empathize.

The Internet is great but we’re constantly jumping to conclusions without thoroughly having thought things out. When we are young, we ask “why” about everything. “Why is the sky blue?” “Why is the sun hot?” Somewhere along the way we “grow up.” Perhaps we should regress a bit back to our youth and ask “why” more. If we can get there to understand another viewpoint, another perspective, to empathize with someone with different viewpoints than yourself than maybe we’ve gotten somewhere. I do believe that the happenings from this past summer could have been prevented with empathy with perspective with understanding. Perhaps today is the day that we start anew.

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