"There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."
More than ever, we need this day to be observed as one of peace than protest. We need this to be a national day (better yet, an international one) of forgiveness than vengeance. And yes, we need to be mindful of our freedom--not just of religion and speech, or from the tyranny and terrorism of others, but freedom from our own violence and hate, discrimination and bullyism. Because we are so much more than that, and we know it.
If we are the Christian nation that a few insist we are, then the way of the cross is to forgive those who persecute us. The way of the cross is to put down our weapons and help those who are victims of flood, victims of famine, of gender persecution, human trafficking, poverty, disease. The way of the cross is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
But we are so much more than that, too, and we know it.
This is a day of remembrance. I remember the day so well. I remember the black smoke against blue sky. I remember hugging colleagues. I remember the fear in my dear Egyptian, Muslim friend's eyes as she feared her American-born child would be taken away from her. I remember praying for the safety of my best friend who worked in the building next door to the towers, and the cry of relief when I found out she and her husband survived and were safe. I remember being humbled to be a New Yorker, to be an American. I remember what being united felt like. I remember a 13-year-old boy who said, on camera, "This would be a truly civilized society if we responded without violence."
We still can.
I've never said it's easy. Often I struggle myself. But then I remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., who knew what terrorism felt like. I remember Gandhi, who knew what oppression from an occupying nation was. They understood nonviolent resistance, and we never give it the credit it deserves. It worked, after all. It's a viable option.
More than ever, we need this to be a day of peace and remembrance. So let's remember when strangers carried a woman in a wheelchair down countless flights in a building ready to crumble. Let's remember the outpouring of love from those who donated bottles of water, sandwiches, Hershey bars, and words of encouragement to rescue workers. Let's remember those people we called to say, "I'm sorry," "I forgive you," "Please forgive me," and "I love you." This is the greatest way to honor those who died that day, and those who have sacrificed their lives since.
If you want to end terrorism, practice peace.