Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years ago, nineteen men murdered nearly 3,000 people. This was not an American tragedy; it was human tragedy. The lesson of the day was to value all human life. Division leads to cyclical violence. Anger is one of the grieving steps, but to be consumed by anger is unhealthy and unproductive. Compassion in the face of pain is the way to peace.

Yet, we have not learned those lessons. Today, the American flag is waved even though the victims of that terrible day came from many different lands. We sing the national anthem with pride even though that same nation is responsible for multiple wars and countless killings in the name of vengeance. We lionize men and women who travel to other lands and kill people for the sake of freedom. Supposedly, the injustice done to us is justification for our own murdering.

The true heroes are not those who take lives for their country. The true heroes are those who risk their own lives to save others. The attacks of September 11 provided heroes. Those heroes were the emergency responders who, in the face of murder, attempted to, and did, save lives. Anger did not motivate these heroes; love did. Honor did. Duty did.

But we do not honor those heroes back. We have not provided them with the health care that every person deserves. Instead, we continue to cheer death. We cheer death because we feel the self-importance to judge others. We rationalize our support for murder by believing that we are good and they are bad.

We don't have to like everyone. We do need to value their lives. It is not for us to judge the past of others. On September 11, 2001, my life changed forever. I realized that if the terrorists had not died, I could not advocate their deaths. Yes, they were responsible for the death of thousands. But it is not for me to judge. It is only for me to love, have compassion, and try to understand.

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