Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11: Choosing to Forgive

A year ago today, I wrote a spontaneous, heartfelt essay on my personal recollections and reflections on the impact of September 11. The expression of my journey guided me to the following words, worth repeating today. You can read the entire essay here.

"In retrospect, I now realize the tremendous gifts fear gave to me. It was fear that led to my heartfelt prayer to the Creator of the Universe, tearfully begging to be shown "the way", whatever it might be.

And the way was indeed shown, though it took years for me to begin to understand, a journey of progressive understanding that continues on this September 11 too, nine years later.

The way had to do with unconditional Love. The way had to do with unconditional Forgiveness. The way had to do with lasting Peace.

I have not forgotten what happened on September 11, 2001. I have not forgotten on a personal, national or global level. I have not forgotten the many people who died that day. I have not forgotten the many people who died in the days and years that followed, on all sides of the resulting wars, including many innocent children and civilians, in addition to soldiers. But there is a difference between forgetting and letting go.

I am finally finding a way of letting go the fear of those days. And it's been quite some time since I have felt any need for vengeance. Instead I have discovered understanding. Instead I am really beginning to see what true faith, forgiveness and unconditional Love actually ask of all of us.

When you begin to look through eyes of understanding, you realize that the entire event on September 11 (even if you believe in alternative theories on the subject) resulted from centuries of fear and vengeance, something that drove a few misguided people to commit an act they felt was justified by their own convictions.

We can question those convictions of course, but can we even dare to try to understand what might have made them feel this way? Can we even dare to end the silence of tolerance (which need not be silent at all)? Just as we expect the tolerant in other countries to take the lead in educating those in their midst, can we dare to take on the responsibility of educating and enlightening those in our own country plagued by eerily similar fears?

Wars breed more wars. Any student of history can see that this is true. Fear breeds more fear. Vengeance breeds more vengeance. Blame breeds more blame. Anger breeds more anger. Death breeds more death. This is true on both sides of any conflict. And sometimes the cascading domino effects of war go on for centuries. This is what happens when we choose not to forget, when we choose not to let go, when we choose not to understand, when we choose not to forgive, when we choose not to Love.

We have a choice. We can indeed choose to Love. We can indeed choose to Trust. We can indeed choose to Understand. We can indeed choose to Forgive. We can indeed choose to place our Faith in the Love that binds us all together on this Earth.

That is where I place my Faith tonight. I have released the angst of September 11, and I no longer believe reacting in fear has anything to do with Faith or Love. I have not watched a single news report today. I honor those who died, just as I honor those who died on every horrendous day, days that continue in some parts of the world, impacting people of many nations, not just ours.

I'm going to dinner in a while. I choose to visit a small family-owned restaurant run by a Moslem married to a Christian (not sure if she converted, either way is fine with me). I happen to know that these people have personally felt an impact from the fear and unreasonable bias that still have a strangle-hold on some who claim to be all about forgiveness, but are actually more interested in judgment, vengeance and a a skewed nationalistic furor instead (something that has led to more wars and death than can be fathomed). I look forward to a nice meal of spicy lamb tajine, a favorite of mine.

I invite you all to dine with us at the table of Universal brotherhood, sisterhood and Unconditional Love.

Understanding breeds more Understanding. Tolerance breeds more Tolerance. Forgiveness breeds more Forgiveness. Love breeds more Love. Joy breeds more Joy. Peace breeds more Peace. Faith breeds more Faith.

I have unwaivering Faith that true Peace on Earth will soon be in our midst."

My son and I dined at that wonderful Moroccan restaurant on Friday, now a favorite of his too. As a parent, I choose to teach tolerance and understanding, not vengeance and fear.

May all of our children learn these lessons well. And yes, I do believe they will one day know Peace, as miraculous as that may seem.

That day is coming soon...for all of us.

~ Susan Larison Danz

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