Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Remember


I, like everyone else, remember September 11th, 2001 when New York City and Washington, DC were attacked by hijacked aircraft. I remember the fear, the loss, the pain. I remember other things as well.

I remember the world extending concern, good wishes, and compassion in that moment of despair.
I remember communities coming together to raise money, clean up rubble, help wounded people, and comfort one another in a time of grief. I remember that a decade later, the master mind behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, was killed. I don't rejoice at any killing. I might have preferred he be captured, tried, and incarcerated. But in any case, there was a sense of closure.

A lot was lost on 9/11, but so much more was spared, and good things were stirred within us. Heroism, compassion, resilience...the best of our humanity overpowered a moment of tragedy.

I have other remembrances, today. I remember that 9/11 wasn't the first, last, or largest tragedy to impact the human family.

I remember that the US government went 7 years without officially responding to the AIDS crisis. I remember that lives were lost because we failed to summon the better angels of our nature in time to contain a pandemic. I also remember when effective medications were finally released and people started living well with HIV, having real hope for long lives.

I remember growing up in a very homophobic environment, too scared to even admit to myself that I was gay, living in shame, fear, and confusion. I remember all those feelings rushing back to mind when Matthew Shephard was brutally killed for being gay. I also remember when Vermont started offering legal civil unions to same-gender loving couples and when Massachusetts first allowed same-gender loving people to marry, and that since those initial breakthroughs marriage equality has gained a lot of momentum. 

 I remember when Don't Ask, Don't Tell was overturn and LBGT people could serve openly and proudly in the US military. I remember that we have made a lot of progress.

I remember that our nation's history includes slavery, Jim Crow, and bloody battles for civil rights. I also remember that on November 4th, 2008, the 44th president of the United States was elected and he is a person of African descent.

I remember that on December 7th, 1941, the Japanese Empire attacked Pearl Harbor. I remember that following that, Japanese Americans were unfairly imprisoned in their own nation just because of their ethnic heritage, and I remember that on August 6th, 1945 the first time any nation used a nuclear weapon in war was when the United Stated dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later Nagasaki also experienced nuclear devastation. Today, Japan is a democracy, a major economy, and an ally of the nation that they once attacked, a nation that retaliated with world changing force.

I remember that a prayer that we use weekly at Sunshine Cathedral is actually the gift of a witness of the atomic bombings of Japan, Masahisa Goi, who prayed (as we do each week), "May peace prevail on earth."

And today, I remember two journalists who were brutally killed in Syria and I wish their families comfort in the days and months to come.

There are many sad events in history to remember, and we should remember. But let us also remember the healing that followed, the opportunities that sadness could not take away, and the hope that remained for better days.

Today, I remember 9/11/01, but I also remember that pain was not invented that day, nor did pain win that day. Hope is always the indestructible force, and so while I remember events from the painful past, I also remember that we always have the power to hope and work for a better tomorrow. Let's do remember that we have the power of hope.


Durrell SIg
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister 

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