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Love thy enemies

By Jessica Connor

I remember well where I was 10 years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists launched a terrible, tragic attack on American soil.

Living in South Florida at the time, I remember frantic calls to loved ones and huddling around a television set as we watched what we thought could be the end of the world. I remember the violence, but more importantly, I ˆremember the way our nation came together in healing.

Today, the beauty of that coming together, that desire to heal, still haunts me. Our races, genders, ages and faiths blurred into one beautiful rainbow. People began going out of their way to show love and compassion to utter strangers, just because. We re all in this together,  we seemed to be telling each other.

But now, 10 years after the attacks, I wonder if we re still saying that. All too often, we re engaging in petty squabbles or polarized political debates, concentrating on our differences instead of finding common ground. All too often, we seek to blame instead of love our enemy.

Earlier this month, a 400-member interfaith religion communicators group issued a call for responsible discussion of faith groups in news coverage of 9/11 s tenth anniversary, urging journalists and bloggers to pursue accuracy, respect and understanding of people of all faiths and faith communities. 

It seems our human inclination to place blame spirals out of control sometimes. We begin to blame Muslims (who did not attack America) instead of extremist terrorists (who did) for the tragedy of 9/11. We begin to point fingers at Republicans or Democrats, for failing to stop a malicious, evil plot by a select few.

But pointing fingers and seeking vengeance, dwelling on the evil that occurred instead of the aftermath, isn t what we need to be doing. As we mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Advocate believes we must focus on the ways we can bridge differences and cultivate peace and love in our world.

In Seneca on the first Sunday after the terrorist attacks, the Rev. Steven Morgan invited two Muslims to speak to the congregation of St. Mark United Methodist Church. They spoke about peacemaking, and when they were finished, they received a standing ovation. This year, St. Mark will observe 9/11 by hosting a Muslim peacemaker, Kemal Korucu, from the Istanbul Center in Atlanta, who will speak on peace, reconciliation and building a bridge among cultures.

The night before his talk, St. Mark will host an intercultural dialogue dinner with Jewish, Christian and Muslim people talking about cultural blindness and the way we are born into culture by accident. The church is also co-sponsoring a Remembering Sept. 11  event with Clemson University.

Morgan thinks 9/11 should not turn into a nationalistic fervor commemoration,  but a way we can honor bridgebuilding, peacemaking and unity, particularly by showing another face of Islam. We think he s on to something.

Remember “ Jesus didn t say love your nation.  He said love thy neighbor,  love thy enemies  and forgive.  Let s focus on how we can do that, and the rest will fall into place.

 

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