Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/11 Commemoration

September 11th - a day that serves to remind us how dangerous religious fanaticism can be. Fundamentalism and the intolerance it breeds, as well as the violence it tends to promote, is dangerous and potentially lethal whether it calls itself Muslim, Hindu, or Christian.

In 2001 I was living about 60 miles outside of Washington, DC. I was stunned as I watched on CNN a plane fly into the World Trade Center (NYC was only a four hour drive from my house at the time). While I was trying to make sense of what happened, another plane struck a tower. I remember saying, "We're under attack." Of course, the Pentagon was also attacked, and another plane landed in rural Pennsylvania.

Friends from Texas called me to make sure I wasn't "too" close to the planes that were raining down from the heavens. Less than a year later I began a second master's degree in New York City. People in the City still responded with sorrow and near disbelief when they spoke of the terrible day in 2001.

It's 8 years later.
Religion is still used to divide, wound, and intimidate.
Politics seem no more civil than they were almost a decade ago.
Racism along with political discord and religious fundamentalism all conspire to keep power and privilege in the hands of too few.
The oppressed and marginalized attack one another rather than banning together to demand equal opportunity and "liberty and justice for all."

September 11, 2001 was a sad in the US.
Of course, other countries live with days like 9/11 every day.
In this country, AIDS attacked entire communities while many pretended not to notice or worse, actually blamed the victims.
Matthew Shepard and James Byrd knew what it was like to be targeted, tormented, and killed for being different.
9/11 could have been a wake-up call that caused us to look with compassion on all who suffer. It could have been an opportunity to unite for the common good making sure no one gets left out.

As we continue to argue about providing health care for all people, and as we continue to protect homophobia/homohatred instead of standing up for equality for everyone, and as we voice our disagreements by spreading misinformation, insults, and personal attacks instead of engaging in healthy, respectful dialogue, one wonders if the healing that could have followed the 9/11 tragedy has been carelessly overlooked.

As we remember a sad day in American history, let's also remember that others have also had sad and painful days. And lets use our painful memories not to justify hatred or to promote fear, but to summon the compassion and goodwill that can bring healing to our whole world. That is the Phoenix that ought to rise from the ashes of 9/11. That is the Resurrection that can affirm life in the aftermath of death. That is the spiritual maturity that may just help heal the wounds inflicted by fundamentalism of every stripe.

Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
12:45 AM (EST), Sept. 11, 2009

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