As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 we are a country at war, but it is a bizarre, surreal war to most of us. We go about our daily business, not affected much by events taking place far away, unless we have a friend or loved one in the military. We have no rationing, no victory gardens or metal drives. Gold and Silver stars do not sit in windows up and down every street. We are not asked to buy war bonds. We do live, however, in a different America than we did on September 10th,2001.
The bitter and poignant reminders of that beautiful day, with its sunny blue sky that suddenly turned deadly, will once again pull the country together as we commemorate those who were lost. Most Americans will spend at least some time today at a service or ceremony. We will play the “where were you when you heard?” game, and try to make sense of the senseless.
I was directed by a Facebook post to “say a prayer for those who lost their lives, and then celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden.” I can and will comply with the first directive; I cannot and will not comply with the second part. I will not celebrate anyone’s death, for that diminishes me. I am an American, but I am first, and foremost, a member of the human race, child of God, and a Christian who has been taught that I must love even my enemies, as difficult as that may be. If I hold onto hatred and fear then what is there to stop me from taking the next step and becoming an instrument of death against those I fear and hate?
No, I will commemorate by praying not only for the victims of 9/11, those who were killed, and those who were left to grieve, and the soldiers and civilians who have died in the ensuing conflicts, but for a broken world that cannot seem to learn how to turn the other cheek. But I will also give thanks for the many acts of love, compassion and selflessness that can and do abound during times of tragedy and upheaval, and for the times we transcend our human hatreds and fears and find in each other the image of God.
I hope that many others will join me in these prayers.