Saturday, September 12, 2009

9/11 Light Up the Night

Last evening I was privileged to speak at a September 11 event sponsored by American Muslim Voice. Our small band gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House and shared the Iftar -- breaking the Ramadan fast. Words from family members of 9-11 victims were a poignant reminder of the violence of that day which continues to take its toll in a war without end.
The local Fox affiliate did a pretty nice story on it, which you can see here.
Here are my brief remarks.
I bring you greetings from Christian Peace Witness, a ecumenical coalition of more than 25 peace fellowships in the United States. I am honored to be with you this evening to break fast, and to break barriers that have too long divided the children of God.
As Samina [executive director of American Muslim Voice] and I have spoken together over the past few days, our conversations always come back to that: the children of God, and, simply, the children.
There was a story in the Post today that focused on young people the paper called the ‘9-11 generation,’ those who were little boys and little girls on September 11, 2001.
I am the parent of such children. I think, in particular, about our middle child, who is now in high school. He was a second grader, seven years old. He was home that morning as we watched the Twin Towers fall, and it shook him to his core. I will never forget, one evening later that fall as I was tucking him into bed, he looked up at me and asked, "daddy, will things ever get back to normal?"
I answered him with fatherly reassurance that, yes, time would begin to heal the wounds we all felt, and that fearfulness would fade. But I thought to myself, "back to normal? I certainly hope not."
For if back to normal means returning to a status quo in which we are so divided among ourselves that the violence of 9-11, of London, Madrid, Mumbai, Baghdad and Kabul was inevitable, I want no part of normal. If back to normal means leaping from national tragedy directly into endless war, I want no part of normal. If back to normal means distortions of our faith traditions, mistrust between Christians and Muslims and Jews, and ethnic profiling by our national security apparatus, then I want no part of normal.
No, what I want for my children and for all children is something new in the world, something that I feel being born among us in gatherings such as this one when we sit down together and speak words of friendship and understanding, when we light up the night with peace.
This Sunday, in many churches, we will read these words from Christian scripture:
"From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh."
As we think back to 2001 and the years since, we know that many words have been spoken in anger and hate and misunderstanding about and among the children of God.
Let the words of our mouths be words full of compassion and of passion for building together a world in which breaking bread together is normal, in which loving one another is normal, in which justice and peace are normal, in which our words, ‘peace, salaam, shalom,’ ring from every church and mosque and synagogue.
Thank you. May peace be among us all. May we light this night, and all nights with the light of love.

No comments: