Sunday, September 11, 2011

On Humanity and Peace...

On this anniversary of a horrific act of terrorism, I had no intention of writing. The web is all abuzz with people dramatically sharing their experience of 9/11 and the ways that it changed their lives. People need to express themselves, I certainly understand. As I was not directly involved in these events, I do not feel the need to make this day about me. The thousands of people who did directly experience the events of this attack are the ones to whom this day belongs. But I found that I do have something to say that relates to the events of 9/11, and the days that followed. A wish for those involved, and for humanity as a whole. 

I am grateful to not have been personally affected first-hand by the attacks of 9/11. My heart broke for all who suffered that day; for the families that lost loved ones, and for the rescuers who endured so much in their efforts. Today I wish them all peace, and an ease to their pain and suffering. 

To our country, I also wish peace. A tall order, and perhaps never possible as it would require peace in other countries as well. Yes, I wish for world peace. Corny? Maybe. I wish nothing more for every human, every animal, every being, and every molecule of our planet than Peace. Peace in their hearts, peace in their minds, peace in their very existence. For all countries, all humanity, all beings of our world deserve Peace. 
On a global level, it would require a lack of greed and a mutual understanding of, and tolerance for, other cultures. Has this ever existed in mankind? Not that I'm aware of. As far as I know, there has always been someone, driven by whatever arrogance, greed or hatred, determined to conquer and take. I would like to think that in our age of intelligence and communication, we could overcome hatred. I don't know that there is any hope to overcoming greed. I believe that people who are at peace are without hatred and greed. So we're back to that.

The Dalai Lama wrote a piece on 9/11 that I feel very strongly about. He wrote,

"Today, as we mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11th 2001 attacks on New York and Washington DC, let us remember all the innocent lives lost and ponder the continuing impact of that tragic day. September 11th reminds us of the horror we human beings can unleash on ourselves when we allow our human intelligence and powerful technology to be overtaken by hatred.

We need to learn from our painful memories of September 11th and become more aware of the destructive consequences that arise when we give in to feelings of hatred. This tragedy in particular has reinforced my belief that fostering a spirit of peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding among the world’s peoples and faith traditions is an urgent matter of importance to us all. We must therefore make every effort to ensure that our various faith traditions contribute to build a more caring, peaceful world."

The Dalai Lama
September 9, 2011

Peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding. Such simple concepts with such great complications. The achievement of these would change the world. That they have never existed shouldn't preclude the possibility that they could, but it does make it seem quite unlikely. But maybe the effort to at least try to achieve these goals could make a difference.  I believe in that possibility. 

In the days following the 9/11 attacks, I watched from afar as so many did, mourning the loss and suffering. I listened as people called on their faith for comfort and strength, as people reached out in help and support of others, as our country seemed more united, and as other countries reached out to us in concern and support. It was a good thing to experience in the midst of chaos.

I also listened, though, as people spoke out in fear and anger of vengeance and retaliation. I watched as more hatred and more intolerance grew from the pain, fear, and inability to understand. In many instances, it was the same people calling on their faith and calling for vengeance. It was for these things that I mourned also. Knowing that the act of hatred and intolerance that led to these attacks would fuel more hatred and intolerance, and that the cycle would continue. It's not that I don't understand why some people felt/feel that way, but it's sad nonetheless.   Justice was certainly needed for these acts. But there is a difference between justice and vengeance. 

The compassion and unity that bloomed from these events will always be shadowed by the hatred and intolerance that grew as well. For these are the feelings that will always stand in the way of peace. These are the feelings that led to the 9/11 attacks, albeit in extremes. But to let ourselves feed our own hatred and intolerance, and to act on these feelings, brings us steps closer to their mentality and further from achieving peace. 
I wish for America (and the world) to learn from these horrible experiences that we must not cultivate hatred and intolerance. We must not let the acts of others incite us to feelings and actions of hostility, to be like them in any way. 

If that was the time to kill, let this be the time to heal. If that was the time to weep and mourn, let now be the time to laugh and dance. If that was the time for war, let now be the time for peace. No matter where we are from, no matter our faith. Let us peacefully coexist and understand that although we may be different, WE ARE HUMANITY.


  1. I wish that peace was a more common feeling. I wish that we could all lay down our differences, and at the end of the day, be able to sleep with a certainty of safety. Unfortunately, that's not the reality of the world we live in where everyone is more concerned with being "right" than with accepting our differences.

    I would love to live in a world where peace was everyone's main goal.

  2. there are so few people who any faith left in these ideas, and sometimes i feel alone in my optimistic hope for the world. i truly enjoyed reading this today.

  3. Thank you, Jenny and Crystal, for your comments. It's reassuring to know that there are others who not only want peace, but who are open-minded to the idea of tolerance. It's certainly not easy, I'll be first to admit it, but I think if people would be open-minded to learning, they may learn things that surprise them.

    Anyway, it's nice to see you both here. My writing isn't usually so serious as this. I do hope to see you around again!