Most of us remember where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001. That day we lost our innocence as a nation. Until then, virtually all modern wars in which we were involved were fought in foreign lands. This act of terrorism brought violence and vulnerability home to us. In many ways, we as a nation have never been the same.
As we lost our innocence—our feeling of invulnerability, we also gained a sense of who we are as a nation coming together as one. We are a country full of people ready to help, to sacrifice, to go out of our way to aid others. This heroism was played out not just by professional rescue workers, but by ordinary people all over.
Many of us who lived too far away to lend our help on the ground in D.C. or NY, nevertheless found ways to get involved. We gave blood to help the wounded, we gave our time or expertise to relief organizations, we sent our prayers, and we sent our money to aid those in dire need.
Watching the coming together of people in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I felt proud of who we are… how we forgot our differences and came together as an “us.”
AND, I felt saddened that in our pain, our desire for revenge caused us to name another “them” to focus our blame upon. In so doing we created a war that is still ongoing—outside of our country and also within it.
We have as a culture looked around at “us” and seen others of our own countrymen as “them” because they practice a different religion, dress differently, embrace different political ideas or wear a different color of skin.
There is a lot to commemorate on this day, but it seems to me the best way to memorialize it, and show respect for the people who have lost their lives or loved ones in the attacks or aftermath, is to focus all our attention, intention, thought, feeling, and prayerfulness on PEACE. Peace is an attitude of mind. It is the willingness to respond to all things with love. Peace is what happens when we refuse to see anyone as “other” and focus on our oneness with all that is.
Peace is when we love ourselves too much to be willing to disturb our own well-being with thoughts of anger, hatred, revenge or disdain, even for people we think we can’t harm because we will never meet in person—those on the television, in the newspaper, online.
This September 11, 2019, let us give the gift of peace, as we begin a new paradigm of peace within ourselves—knowing it is what will bring peace into the world.