9/11 and After

Event Date: 
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 10:15am - Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 3:00pm

As the Twin Towers collapsed, and the suffering of this horrible event became increasingly clear in the hours and days that followed, parts of the American soul revealed themselves – the heroic responses of the first responders, and a city and nation of people taking care of each other. As ordinary citizens gave their lives for strangers, they became our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Suffering led to the service of many.

For a moment, the world’s last remaining superpower was vulnerable, and we all felt it. In our sudden sense of vulnerability we were now, and perhaps for the first time, like most of the world, where vulnerability is an accepted part of being human. And in those first days following 9/11, America, not the terrorists, had the high ground. The world did not identify with those who cruelly and murderously decided to take innocent lives in response to their grievances – both real and imagined. Instead, the world identified with a suffering America – even the front cover of the French newspaper Le Monde ran the headline, “We are all Americans now.”

The world expected and would have supported a focused and sustained effort to pursue and bring this small band of criminals to justice. But these last 10 years of manipulated and corrupted intelligence, endless war, practices and policies of torture, secret armies of assassination, global violations of human rights, indiscriminate violence with countless human casualties, and trillions of dollars wasted caused America to lose the high ground long ago. The arrogance of American power was our only response to both the brutality and complexity of terrorism. Perhaps this arrogance is most recently and brazenly exhibited in former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s new book tour where he boasts of having absolutely no regrets of any of the momentous decisions he took part in. These are decisions which have made the world an even more divided, polarized, dehumanized and dangerous place – 10 years after September 11, 2001.

But fortunately, the official and failed response of Washington to the terrible tragedy of 9/11 has not been the only response. A new generation of Christians has asked how Jesus would respond to these same events. Many of them would agree with what Methodist Bishop Will Willimon recently said: “American Christians may look back on our response to 9/11 as our greatest Christological defeat … when our people felt vulnerable, they reached for the flag instead of the cross.” As many of those who have grown up in the decade since 9/11 confront the conflicts of their world, they are reaching for different things than their government. They are forging alternative responses to issues of injustice and violence, and rejecting the terrorism and war sequence of Washington’s twisted and failed moral logic.

Despite the hateful diatribes of fundamentalist leaders in all our religious traditions, other Christians have decided to love their neighbors, and even their enemies, in response to Jesus’ call. As we gather in our houses of worship, we must remind ourselves of two fundamental truths: We must not be overcome by evil, but rather overcome evil with good; and “they will know we are Christians by our love.”

Reprinted with permission from Sojourners, (800) 714-7474www.sojo.net.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis

 

Posted on September 13, 2011 at 11:40 am in Featured Content.

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