Virtual Church of the contact | map
Blind Chihuahua

More to religion
than pleasing
your imaginary friend

As I sat in prayer Friday on the National Day of Mourning, the words of a song kept running through my head: "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…."

I am buffeted, tossed by emotions. On Tuesday morning, just as I was beginning my day, a nephew called and said, "Turn on the television. There's been an attack on the World Trade Center in New York." As he continued to fill me in on what was happening, I turned on the television. I saw for myself.

It seems like the set hasn't been off since. All day Tuesday I was glued to the images before me, and all day Wednesday. I'm sure I must have slept some in that time but I only remember the scenes of violence, of mushroom clouds in flame and smoke, of a billowing cloud pursuing frightened people down a street, of tears and dust and chaos. I am stunned and filled with grief; I am confused by conflicting thoughts and emotions; I want somehow to make sense of this tragedy when there is no sense to be made. I have questioned God and I have thought about evil.

It seems facile and far too simple to assign this work to "Satan" or even blame the destruction on "them." Years ago, Walt Kelly, drawing his comic strip, Pogo, wrote the words: "We have met the enemy and he is us." All week those words have haunted me: Who is this "enemy?" Who do we bomb or attack in retribution? Where do we assign the blame?

The United States Government has also committed its own acts of terrorism: bombing the presidential palace in Chili and killing Allende; financially supporting and training death squads in Central America; waging a Gulf War. We are not the innocent people we want to believe ourselves to be. We are, at the same time, a proud and honorable people.

We are also a nation that encourages and supports freedom and one built on diversity. I saw the faces on television as they searched for information on missing people: they were all colors and all nationalities - all different nationalities grieving the same disastrous attack, this "act of war." That, I believe, is unprecedented and I was so proud of the many faces we presented for the world to see. And I prayed with the clergy, with Islamic and Jewish and Christian clergy.

I have also discovered I am a patriot: proud of this people, this spirit, the volunteers digging through rubble for bodies, the ones digging into wallets to donate money, those who lined up to donate blood. The grief I see on faces is also my grief.

But God is neither on our side nor on theirs. God is. It is we humans who have the bottomless capacity for hate and retribution as well as an equal capacity for love and compassion. We must each of us choose our path; we must each choose the capacity that serves us best, the one with which we can most comfortably live. We must each of us struggle to live with what we believe.

I choose the path of compassion, and with that compassion I choose peace. It is the only struggle that makes sense to me. I cannot blame another without at the same time assigning equal responsibility to my own flawed behavior. I do not know how far back I can go into human history to find the core from which this evil arose, whether it is the evil of the attack or the evil of retribution. I cannot fault another for the way he or she believes. I can, however, pray for peace and in that praying, pray for it to begin with me.

We all want pacifism to prevail, someday. We fight because we want it to prevail on our terms.

This was part of a series of reactions to the 9/11 attack and its aftermath, that in later years would have been blog entries.

previous | next

For an ongoing summary see our Jihad/Hirabah page.