I recently read a piece describing what constitutes a person being an American. Given that Terry and I have referred to ourselves as a Heinz 57 kind of mutt, it was affirming to read that the author expanded on this description for any of us called American citizens. He wrote that we come from anywhere and everywhere throughout the world. We come in all shapes and sizes and colors. We cover the gamut of faith traditions and have made up some of our own. We are conservatives and liberals and everyplace in-between. In the past we have reached out to help about every other country in the world and we have accepted and even welcomed their tired, their poor, and their misfits. Then the events of “911” happened and it seems strange that the three numbers, we have used for years, to call for help in an emergency, are the same numbers now frequently used to describe the worst direct attack the continental United States has ever experienced.
So what if we look at the events of September 11, 2001 (911) as an emergency call. Not the kind of call that brought forth an entity called Homeland Security and spurred ongoing wars, with no end in sight. What if instead of becoming like the enemy we are seeking to destroy, we offer another way. What if instead we looked at the perpetrators as the enemies Jesus taught us to love? What if we looked for ways to be Christ like, to truly follow Jesus’ teaching, to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and minds and our neighbors (and our enemies) as ourselves? In the many versions of the Bible we have, we have never found Jesus to add the words, “Except for…”
Peace has never been bought with the price of war. Yes, our country came about because our ancestors fought for our freedom. So we often equate freedom with peace, although they are not necessarily one and the same. From the very beginnings of the United States we have experienced many fights to protect our freedoms, as if we have a right to this gift of freedom which apparently many of us, as Americans, have believed God bestowed on us alone. Even in times referred to as peaceful, there have been internal strifes and external wars.
So, what would Peace actually look and feel like? The first step would be to find Peace within ourselves. This Peace comes when we begin to truly follow what Jesus’ taught and not just worship Him on Sunday mornings. As does the Peace which comes when we mindfully love and care for ourselves and our neighbors, where ‘ere they may live, and also for all creatures and the environment. By so doing, we are showing our love for the Lord our God and offering thanksgiving for all the blessings we share. "Share" seems such a simple word. It’s one we say to our children as they grow older and go through the stage of “mine-I-ness”. Unfortunately, many of us never grow beyond this stage and as adults wielding power and authority, we still shout out: “It’s mine. Let go”.
As the 10th anniversary of the attacks perpetrated on September 11, 2001 approach, what will you remember? What will you choose to honor and memorialize? Terry and I are praying for all those, here and the world over, whose personal lives were irrevocably changed. We remember those who gave their lives in the attempt to rescue their friends and neighbors and give thanks for their courage. We remember those, who in the aftermath, sought for a peaceful resolution and for those who still do. And we pray that in the face of any attack we may personally encounter, we will stand as strong as the Amish-Mennonite communities and their belief that Jesus teaches an alternative way.
Terry and Tracy