Today is the twenty-second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country, which we ominously name “9/11”. It is a somber time for America, and for those of us who remember, a time that can become a source of anger.
Many will post memes on social media, and banners that simply say “Remember”. It is good to remember. But it is good only if we remember in a way that does not cause retaliation to rise up inside us. The Lord knows we have retaliated enough for the terrible attacks on 9/11/01. Thousands of people, many of theme innocent of the attacks, have died as a result of our nation’s retaliation. There has been more than enough killing on both sides. People of good will long for peace.
The good kind of remembering helps us to gain perspective on life and the behaviors in life that affect us all. Putting politics aside, to remember 9/11, is to honor the memories of those who died in the attacks and their families and friends. It is to humbly acknowledge the tragedy, and to vow to work tirelessly so that something like this never happens again. It is to condemn the actions of the terrorists, while at the same time to perceive how the life experiences of various communities could have led some to act in such terrible ways, not to justify but to learn.
We will be talking about forgiveness this Sunday. Holding on to grudges and anger is not the Christian way. Jesus tells us that if we want to be forgiven of our sins, we HAVE to forgive others. We.Have.To. That is true at the corporate level as well as the individual level. So, while non-Christians might justify holding on to anger and unforgiveness, Christians cannot. Forgiveness is an act of the will; one must decide to forgive. If you wait until you “feel” like forgiving, you may never forgive. Like love itself, forgiveness is not a feeling, but an action. And it may need to be repeated over and over again before it actually takes root.
As the years go by, the sting of 9/11 becomes less and less, but it is still there. And it is good to remember, but not good to harbor hatred and unforgiveness. Let us remember so that the likelihood of recurrence is lessened. And let us build bridges of understanding and love through forgiveness. It is not easy, but it is what we are called to do.