We remember the stories of two men carrying a woman in a wheelchair down countless flights of stairs in a burning building, of one person jumping on another to shield him from debris, of strangers in tears and locked in embraces, trying to make sense of the senseless.
We remember firefighters and police officers running into, not away from, the towers as they leaned and shook.
No one stopped to ask whether the person they were helping was Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or atheist. No one refused to rescue another because of their sexuality or race or stance on abortion. None of those strangers embraced on the condition that they disclose their income.
It was the grace in the midst of the suffering, the realization that we had so much in common. We were not nationalistically united, but collectively humanized. It was the only thing that brought us some comfort. We were all in this together.
Then came the anger.
Anger is a part of the grieving process. It was not wrong to be angry. It was not wrong to want vengeance. Our brothers and sisters and parents and children and spouses and friends and lovers died. Some channeled that anger into art. Into music. Into stories. But the policy, unfortunately, channeled the anger into war. It acted on that desire for vengeance rather than the desire for justice.
Our collective humanity has suffered so much more in the last ten years as a result.
What if the ultimate act of justice was nonviolent? Could that be the way to defeat terrorism? The Civil Rights movement proved it could. Gandhi proved it could.
We need a remembrance for this day. We need a remembrance of our collective humanity, where the lines of religion, gender, race, political ideology, sexuality, and class revealed themselves to be transparent, if existent at all.
My message today is to honor the day by practicing random acts of kindness. Refrain from political rhetoric, jingoistic nationalism, and glorification of war. Read a book. Watch a Frank Capra film. Eat something chocolate. Forgive someone who needs your forgiveness, even if that is someone is you. Apologize to someone you've wronged. Say thank you as much as you can.
I pray you'll find grace in the midst of the sadness and suffering on this day of remembrance, even if just for a moment. I pray you'll reconnect to our collective humanity. I pray you'll know peace. I pray we'll all know peace.