September 11

Reflection

On this anniversary of that tragic 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  the dead were. We did not submerge our compassion for their husbands, wives, partners or children. Americans had been attacked; Americans had died; America was in mourning and rightly so. Today, nineteen years later, we still remember them; we still honor them; we still mourn.

Yet, painfully, we have changed since then. We have suffered another terrible shock. This time it is not a visible foe but an illness which is devastating us. It has killed 192,000 Americans and we are still hearing of increasing deaths each day. These, too, are our citizens. They, too, are our friends and neighbors, relatives and loved ones. Yet, there is no ritual remembering them, no organized national mourning. Why have we forgotten them and the national pain we should be feeling and sharing?

We mourn now for the divisions, the violence, the hatreds that have surfaced 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 national identity. We mourn and remember those we lost on 9/11. Let us also weep for all those who have died alone in hospital rooms, for those who suffer their loss, for our nation which seems numbed out of its humanity, and 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 challenges into opportunities and blessings for others and ourselves.

Action

Reflect on the united mourning of a nation after 9/11. Think of our response now. Where is our united public mourning even if it has to be virtual?

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

There have been no political funerals for the pandemic dead. In the absence of official national mourning, we’ve not seen many spontaneous memorials or vigils at all. Instead, plenty of flag-waving demonstrations to end stay-at-home orders and reopen businesses pop up all over the country. We’ve seen American Patriot Rally protesters armed with rifles in the Michigan State House as legislators debated whether to approve the governor’s request to extend the shutdown in that state. We’ve seen pandemic-fatigued New Yorkers rush to parks on the first warm day, barely distanced and some unmasked. But we’ve seen no comparable mass action for the dead.
Micki McElya

People around the world are grappling with what it means to die and mourn in the midst of a pandemic.
Sarah Chavez

If you don’t breathe the spirit of the nation, if you don’t have a fierce sense of belonging to each other, you’re not going to sacrifice for the common good.
David Brooks

 

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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