Never Forget?

Another year has gone by and another September 11 has come and gone.  When people say “Never Forget”, what do they mean?  Do they mean never forget the beautiful lives that were lost that day, and celebrate the moments of beauty those people left in the world during their time here?  Or do they mean never forget the death and destruction?  Maybe they mean never forget the extremism that led some very misguided souls to end their lives by destroying the lives of others as well.  Or maybe they mean never forget the destructive foreign policies that gave rise to such extreme hatred.

I fervently wish that when people commemorated September 11, they would celebrate the beauty of those whose lives were lost, but sadly, most do not.  They wallow in the terror, the death, the anger.  If we could stop fetishizing destruction, then maybe we could see how counterproductive we are and make a new beginning.  We could transform our own lives if we just left the hatred and pain and terror behind and thought about how we can treat one another here and now.  We could avoid the brutal mistakes of the past…

Yeah.  Who am I kidding.

Instead, we are going to pursue a policy of military intervention against a perceived threat.  Again.  We dance to the familiar drumbeat of  aggression.  We demonize without attempting to understand.  We create new messes to replace the messes we have already put in place.

When will we learn?

Try saying this silently to everyone and everything you see for thirty days: “I wish you happiness now and whatever will bring happiness to you in the future.” If we said it to the sky, we would have to stop polluting; if we said it when we see ponds and lakes and streams, we would have to stop using them as garbage dumps and sewers; if we said it to small children, we would have to stop abusing them…if we said it to people, we would have to stop stoking the fires of enmity around us. Beauty and human warmth would take root in us like a clear, hot June day. We would change.Joan Chittister


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