Seventeen years ago tomorrow, our nation suffered one of the greatest tragedies in our history - the 911 attacks. Shortly after the initial horror of those days, I purchased a book titled From the Ashes: A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America. It contained a series of essays by writers from a variety of spiritual traditions. One that was especially difficult yet meaningful and helpful was by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. This veteran writer and peace maker was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Martin Luther King, Jr. Decades later, he wrote the following words to all of us who were suffering from the violence and tremendous loss of life on September 11, 2001:
For the American people, I would suggest that we do everything we can to restore our calm and lucidity before responding to the situation. To respond too quickly before we have much understanding of the situation may be very dangerous...When we react out of fear and hatred, we do not yet have a deep understanding of the situation. Our action will only be a very quick and superficial way of responding to the situation and not much true benefit and healing will occur...All violence is injustice. The fire of hatred and violence cannot be extinguished by adding more hatred and violence to the fire...America is burning with hatred. That is why we have to tell our Christian friends, "You are children of Christ."
At this annual time of national reflection, remembrance, and mourning seventeen years after the 911 attacks, may we take these words to heart. The best way we can honor the victims of that terrible day and build a better future for our nation and the world is to heed the words that call us to the way of true peace and justice, "You are children of Christ."