Time to Remember

My new role in life as a consultant requires periodic travel to New York City. During the past four years there hasn’t been a time as the Amtrak train approaches the meadows just before entering the tunnel to Manhattan that I don’t look out the window and see the empty space where the Twin Towers once stood.

In a way, those of us who travel to New York by train are constantly reminded of what took place in September 2001. It seems that the American penchant for doing things faster and faster also applies to forgetting moments that change the direction of lives, countries, and, ultimately, history.

Not long ago, I had occasion to visit New York City once again on an assignment. The recent terrorist attacks in London have demonstrated the vulnerability of mass transit to terrorist activity. The consequences of these attacks caused U.S. authorities to increase security measures in the mass- transit sector here.

As I emerged from the train arrival level to the main waiting area of Penn Station, I saw National Guard troops patrolling the station area with their rifles at the ready position. It was a real shock to see. Although, frankly, every time the train enters the tunnel you wonder, Is this the one that carries the bomb-toting terrorist?

All the while the national debate continues. The vitriol of the discussion continues to rise, and the sense of unity resulting from 9/11 has given way.

The jewelry industry’s business centers of New York; Providence, R.I.; Chicago; and Los Angeles are all examples of different ethnic and religious groups coming together to work, create, and make a living to support their families. As a diverse industry, we come together to address problems. We discuss, debate, argue, and occasionally fight about a problem.

Conflict diamonds is a very good example. Ultimately, we as an industry agree on a course of action that is the product of these discussions and differences of opinion. We agree to follow and compromise because it is in everyone’s ultimate best interests to do so. As the conflict-diamond situation has shown, however, nongovernmental organizations continue to complain that the industry is not doing enough and that problems still exist.

In Hollywood, filmmakers have the ability to write screenplays that simplify problems and solutions so that a story is complete in 90 minutes or so. The real world is not an episode of Law & Order where a crime is committed, investigated, and prosecuted in an hour.

Our mission is to press on relentlessly to make things better, whether it’s eradicating diamond-financed terrorism in Africa, stopping the pollution of the environment by mining entities looking for precious metals, or eliminating the terrorists who maim and murder innocent victims.

It is said that there are three types of people: those who watch things happen, those who make things happen, and those who say what happened. On Sept. 11, 2001, we all watched in horror as 19 lunatics murdered nearly 3,000 innocent people in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. We must never forget that day; we must always remember that to do nothing is to invite more of the same.