Friday, September 11, 2015

Fourteen Years Later Can We Learn This Lesson

Here's a thought for this anniversary of the September 11th attack. I remember the stories and the images of dazed and frightened people and the foreign-born and Muslim cabbies who took some of them away from that horrific scene. I think about the many people I know who were personally affected, and those who lost family members. With that, I offer this sentiment:

We recognize how much we need each other and how much we stand to benefit from the support and encouragement that others offer us. It is essential, then, that we offer this support and encouragement to one another and to all whom we meet.
-Br. David Vryhof Society of Saint John the Evangelist

I feel that is the thing we squandered fourteen years ago. At a time when our nation was shocked, confused, and trembling from the repeated images of planes hitting the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and one plane that had been diverted from its original strategic target to crash in a Pennsylvania field, we were in a place that I had hoped would allow us to be introspective. Perhaps we'd be willing to be vulnerable enough to allow our allies to express condolences and solidarity in our hurt. Maybe we'd even take a moment to consider why such anger could be kindled against us?

My heart sunk when I saw how quickly we turned this moment of devastating loss and destruction into a drumbeat for war. We didn't want to think; we wanted to react. And it seems that's all we've been doing for the past fourteen years since that terrible day.

And so my mind is again drawn back to my memories of the pictures of ash-covered New Yorkers trudging across the bridges to get home. They were not all American-born citizens but on that day, as it has happened with many tragedies since, everybody was an American. Religions didn't matter; it was about survival and survival meant, in some cases, relying on the support of a stranger.

It meant being vulnerable. And we were on that day. We all were.

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