It came like a brutal bolt from the blue and changed the heartbeat of history. It was like a stray asteroid striking the two towers that stood like symbols of a nation, within sight of the Statue of Liberty. The structures were brimming with business like the nation’s market-places, facilitating finance, providing jobs for a multitude, harboring people from more than ninety nations, they say.
Many things have happened since then, from major inconveniences in travel to costly wars in distant lands. Similar atrocities of the murder of innocent people have been carried out in other nations of the world as well. Year after year we rightly grieve for those who lost their lives and we feel for the bereaved families. But there is little that the civilized nations of the world can do to thwart the terrorists who are obviously armed by people and governments of hate and ill-will.
But one good seems to have emerged from that catastrophe: interfaith movements are stronger and more numerous now. This has been possible because caring and compassion, mercy and magnanimity are the messages of all religions, and the vast majority want peace and harmony.
In the past decade, natural disasters have been sweeping the world in mindless fury, while environmental threats are lurking in hundred niches. There is therefore an urgency to hold hands in a spirit of goodwill and confront the stark issues facing us all. Whether Christian or Jew, Hindu, Muslim or whatever our denominational allegiance, we have no choice but to build bridges of understanding, and explore how we can prevent the world from deteriorating into greater peril.
We can only hope that religious, racial, and cultural diversity will not continue to be instruments of venom and viciousness. We can only appeal to the religious and ideological extremists of the world to transform their passions into acts of love and charity. We can only wish that eloquent leaders in every place of worship will inspire the faithful to act in accordance with the noblest visions of the faiths. Every awakened religion reminds us that we are brothers and sisters, all children of the same Divine Principle symbolized in different ways, invoked by different names, and prayed to in different languages. Stressing our commonality as fellow earthlings may enable us to erase animosity and foster mutual regard.
Perhaps if this is accomplished, the sacrifice of the thousands on that ominous day a decade ago may not have been in vain. If not, the current earthy inferno can only worsen.
Shalom, Salám, Shánti, and Peace!
September 11, 2011