The Imagination of 11/9

It took a trip to Berlin for me to see the true power of imagination behind today’s anniversary.

Berlin Wall Collage

Thomas Friedman reveals this imagination in his book The World Is Flat:

“It strikes me that our lives have been powerfully shaped by two dates: 11/9 and 9/11. These two dates represent the two competing forms of imagination at work in the world today: the creative imagination of 11/9 and the destructive imagination of 9/11. One brought down a wall and opened the windows of the world…It unlocked half the planet…Another brought down the World Trade Center…putting up new invisible and concrete walls among people at a time when we thought 11/9 had erased them for good.

The dismantling of the Berlin Wall on 11/9 was brought about by people who dared to imagine a different, more open world—one where every human being would be free to realize his or her full potential—and who then summoned the courage to act on that imagination.

Nine-eleven, of course, changed all that….There are two ways to flatten the world. One is to use your imagination to bring everyone up to the same level, and the other is to use your imagination to bring everyone down to the same level…Our focus therefore has to be how we can can encourage more of the good [imagination] and keep out the bad…That effort may be the most important thing we learn to do in order to keep this planet in one piece.”

Thanks to the Transatlantic Outreach Program for making this revelation possible for me. Social Studies teachers, if you’re interested in this kind of learning experience, please contact me about the TOP program and how to apply for the summer fellowship in Germany.


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