September 11

Reflection

Seventeen years and still we weep today as we remember. We weep as we reflect on how we have changed since that day when we were all one people. We weep at the divisions, the violence, the hatreds that are wringing the life out of us as a nation, as a world hostage to fanaticism, as humanity being robbed of its compassion and its soul. We weep because since that violent day which united us in shock and pain, America has fractured. Even as we commemorate this sad anniversary, the lines between “us” and “them” are harsher at home blurring our shared citizenship. This day renews our sense of shock and reminds us of the pain of vulnerability. Yet, even as those memories wound us again, we realize that as a nation we too have exposed others to suffering. We mourn and remember those we lost. Let us also weep for all who continue to be affected, for those who suffer related illnesses, for those who are still dying, for those whose hatred has destroyed their humanity. We cannot change the past, we can only change ourselves. From pain we can learn compassion and from division we can learn unity. We weep together on this anniversary of that terrible day. May our tears not be wasted on division but be the balm of unity.

Prayer

God of wisdom and compassion, You create eventual newness out of every kind of evil. Make us instruments and agents of such creation as we strive to turn the post-9/11 challenges into opportunities and blessings for others and ourselves.

Action

The terrorists of 9/11 were guided by a narrative of intercultural incompatibility. But as people of diverse religious and secular identities, we can prove them wrong in our unity. By building bridges of understanding, we can emerge from the shadows and learn — from one another — how to be our best selves.
Radhanath Swami

Suggested Reading

A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.
Jeremiah 31:15

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.
Matthew 12:25

As glass shattered, cement crumbled and steel melted in the inferno of senseless cruelty, the heart of humanity screamed in anguish. September 11, 2001 — a day when the evil potential of misguided ego was again exposed. While our landmarks collapsed in a cloud of smoke and debris, beneath a surge of shock and rage, something awakened in our hearts: compassion.  Suddenly, our worldly obsessions faded away as we cried for the plight of others. In memory of this tragic day, let us join hands and pray for God’s grace to heal, unite and empower us to serve with love.
Unknown

No matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family… as we honor the memory of those we have lost, let us summon that spirit once more. Let us renew our sense of common purpose. And let us reaffirm the bond we share as a people: that out of many, we are one.
Barack Obama

The moment to spend with a husband who loves me, or a sick friend, or a delicious new grandchild is here and now. Not some time later. The nation learned this lesson all at once that horrible day in September 2001. The pictures stay with us — the fires and falling debris, and, most hauntingly, the faces. Look how young so many of them were, people who thought there would be much more time, a lot of ‘later’ when they could do all the things they really wanted to do. I grieve for their families — especially for those, like me, who haven’t found any trace of the people they loved. But I grieve even more for the people who died that day. They couldn’t know what we know now about the precious gift of time.
Cokie Roberts

This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today. It is perpetrated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life, and we the democracies of this world are going to have to come together and fight it together.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair

On this anniversary of unbelievable sorrow, comfort those who mourn, and guide our hearts toward healing and hope. Remind us of the love of Christ, love which leapt over cultural and ethnic boundaries to feed the hungry, seek the lost and care for the least. Make of Your children, no matter how we name You, one human family, bound together in the work of justice and peacemaking. Make us one with the Light that shines in the darkness and illumines a path toward understanding and reconciliation. Let love be our genuine call. Amen.
Unknown

Remember the hours after Sept. 11 when we came together as one! It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.
John Kerry

From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.
Denis Diderot

If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.
Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl

I was in New York on September 11 when those planes hit the World Trade Center. At the time, it seemed like it was a local thing. But three or four days later, by the time we drove across the country in the bus, we realized it wasn’t a local thing. You could really feel the states become united. We became the United States of America.
John Madden

 

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