Ground Zero, New York City, Terrorism Attack
Photo from Pixabay

For all Americans and many others, remembering the horrifying events that happened on September 11, 2001 brings many images to mind.  Who can forget watching a plane deliberately strike a building, seeing the fire and smoke, watching people leaping from windows 110 stories high, and seeing a large solid, structure crumple to the ground.  The tragic images are burned into the American mind and consciousness.  The death toll was almost 3,000 people.  It is not surprising that the numbers 9-11 evoke a sense of urgency and are used as an emergency call for help.

That September, our American consciousness was raised.  The strong symbols of our financial power lay in rubble.  We realized that we were not alone nor separated from the rest of world.  We never imagined that America would experience such a tragedy.  And most importantly, we recognized the new reality that we were vulnerable.

Emotions were readily present as we resumed our normal lives always with an eye to the news.  We rightfully applauded the first responders as heroes.  We marveled at the poignancy and strength of the passengers on Flight 93.  We grieved with those who had lost family members and friends as we watched tearful ceremonies of remembrance.  We struggled with those who could not identify nor find their dead.  Patriotism burgeoned and a subdued American pride flowered.

There was much to learn about ourselves and about our place in the global community.   There was hope that the positive American values and new learnings would lead to a transformed America.  There was hope that there would never again be a September 11th because of our willingness to stand for justice, to reduce global poverty, to value difference, and to be a beacon of hope in our world.

Today, we need to remember 9/11.  So often, our present policies and behaviors belie the learnings of that tragic day.  After 9/11, we learned that authentic Islamic belief is peaceful and loving. And yet today we often profile Muslims, and restrict their immigration to the United States, even as students and family members.  We may view them suspiciously and refuse to have a mosque in our neighborhoods.  After 9/11, we learned that religious extremists, who are so confident that their thoughts and practices should be the norm, can easily hate.  And yet today, our culture is fractured by a lack of reconciliation and understanding between fundamental, evangelical Christians and those whose life style is a different alternative.  After 9/11, we learned the consequences of violence on our soil.  And yet today, we refuse to embrace gun safety even while our children are victims of gun violence during their school day. After 9/11, we learned that we are part of the world community and that our communal actions have consequences.  And yet today, we impose tariffs on trade exchange; we destroy earth for profit as though it is not our common home; we recklessly consume and discard; we deport immigrants seeking asylum; and we claim America First at the expense of our own peace.

It is time to remember.  It is time to listen to the beat of America’s heart again.  It is time to center and balance American life.  The time is now; it is our time to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8) because we remember; we learned; and we are people of integrity.

Karen Rossman, OP

Karen Rossman, OP