Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering September 11, 2001

Ten years ago, the entire world was forced to stop in it's tracks and hold it's collective breath as the events that would become known as my generations pearl harbor unfolded. In many ways, I still feel as if we are left with more questions than answers about 9/11 but I believe that sentiment is true given any tragedy on that scale. I've heard every conspiracy theory there is about that day and whether or not any of them are true frankly is beside the point. Thousands of people died on that one day. Within a two hour window, over 3,000 individuals lost their lives and many more families and extended families lost their loved ones. Even those of us who did not know anyone personally who died on that day, we all lost a part of our family when those buildings fell, when those planes crashed, and when the rescue workers lay in hospital beds months later giving their lives still in the pursuit of saving others.

September 11th, 2001 marked a time in our world's history when we saw both the best and the worst humanity has to offer. Again though, tragedy always seems to polarize the world into one group or the other and it should not be forgotten that humanity has shown us these sides during other events as well. For those of us on US Soil though, who spent our lives believing that we were beyond the reach of such things, we have had to face a screaming wake up call that has echoed through the last ten years. Our shock still feels fresh and yet some of you in the world experience your own 9/11 on a daily basis through torture and mistreatment at the hands of your own governments and even families. One of my wishes has always been that one of the things learned from 9/11 would be the realization that some parts of the world experience horrors such as that every single day.

We did learn from 9/11 though, what the cost of freedom truly is. The ideals and values which we hold dear too here in the US came under attack in the most extreme way I can imagine possible. I have had my differences with certain aspects of the US as most people know, namely in the area of religous and social justice. While some of these issues can be very frustrating to deal with, the fact that we are allowed to deal with them in an open forum is exactly why terrorists dispise and hate countries that practice democracy and personal freedoms. It's one of the hardest concepts of "freedom" to grasp but also the most fundamental because the symbol for it cannot simply be a flag or a piece of paper with ammendments but the symbol must be the right to recognize that freedom even when it comes in forms that we do not agree with.

I've referenced this before but it's worth repeating. I preached a sermon on forgiveness and uncontional love following the events of 9/11 and issued a challenge to a congregation. The challenge was this, to truly and absolutely forgive the people involved in organizing and carrying out those horrible events. We can harbor anger for our entire lives and all it reeps is more anger and hostility but when we make an honest effort to forgive and to love people simply because they're human, we take steps toward a reconciliation of humanity, the power of which is unmeasurable. Often times extremeists are victoms of their own upbringing and conditioning, a fact I beleive that we tend to forget all too often. The proof of this though is unfolding before our very eyes in countries that have had enough of conditioning and fear mongering.

Ten years later it is still my challenge to people to think this way. In our seeking justice for wrong doing, we must remember that Islam did not attack america, Muslims are not our enemies. The enemy we face can come from any religion and from any ethnic background. This eney has a few names but can be summed up in a couple of really well known ones, hate and fear. These are the enemies of humanity and serve as infections and diseases that attack the human spirit. Hatred must be healed, not clensed with violence and fear must be treated with love and temperence, not acted upon rashly. If we deal with this enemy of humanity in such a way, it will ultimitely have no choice but to die off from stravtion as the human race refuses to feed it.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone on this day of remembrence. For those who lost loved ones on 9/11, my deepest sympathies go out to you and for those of use who watched from afar, let us remember this day and what it teaches us about the worst of humanity but also the best humanity has to offer. Be blessed and take care.