September 11

 

Reflection

On this anniversary of that terrible day, we remember how we were united in shock and pain. There were no divisions then. We did not ask what race, what religion, what political party, or what country of origin of the dead. We did not withhold our compassion from their husbands, wives, partners or children. Americans had been attacked; Americans had died; America was in mourning.  Since that tragic day which united us, America has fractured. Today as we remember, we are saddened, and we reflect on how we have changed. We mourn now over the divisions, the violence, the hatreds that have surfaced since then and are wringing the life out of us. We are a nation hostage to violence, a people being robbed of their compassion and their soul. Even as we commemorate this sad anniversary, the lines between “us” and “them” are harsher blurring our shared citizenship. This day reminds us of the pain of our vulnerability. We cannot change the past, we can only change ourselves. 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, and also for ourselves.  From pain we can learn compassion and from division we can learn union. May our tears not be wasted on separation but become the balm of unity.

Prayer

God of wisdom and compassion create newness out of evil. Make us instruments and agents of 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

Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. When man thinks only of himself, his own interests and places himself in the center, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined. Then the door opens to violence, indifference and conflict. Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace?
Pope Francis

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 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

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

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

 

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