Shock, disbelief, gut-wrenching fear, feeling of vulnerability all ran through me on 911. I felt violated as a person and as a country. I longed to be with my family somehow finding reality and safety with them. I was to fly that day. My flight was later in the day. My daughter calls frantically knowing I was to fly but did not remember where or when. When she finally reached me she was sobbing and scared. Relief went through her knowing I was safe and yet despair because of what violence had been perpetrated on our country. She is a grown woman with children and she needed the solace of the family being together. Those experiences were felt around the country.
I was glued to the television as one sickening image after another was shown and replayed over and over and over. Sleep? What sleep? Who could sleep. Our country had been penetrated by foreign terrorists. My heart went out to all the families who lost loved ones that day. I couldn’t begin to imagine that kind of lost. I shed many tears for several days and some for years to come as I heard story after story.
After the shock, I wanted revenge. I was angry that anyone could steal the feeling of safety in our country. I hated those terrorists. I supported the “war against terrorism”. I joined voices with most of America with President George Bush. I was in it for the kill under the guise of patriotism.
Ten years later I realize how much I’ve changed. As I’ve transformed personally, I no longer connect with the hatred and revenge and killing mentality. Often times when there is hatred and violence and hurt it seems to connect to some fearful and hurting part of ourselves, and that connects with the external world. Having been violated by sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse I was consumed with being a victim. I had hate in my heart towards my parents. I felt despair and lived in the prisons of victimization. So when 911 happened, it connected to my internal agenda giving me an external manifestation of hate and I wanted revenge! I am not proud of those feelings and thoughts.
In reflecting back over the ten years as I see the effects of 911 on our country, I see it differently. Many, many lives were lost that day. With those who lost their lives are many people who loved and cared about them suffered. The nation mourned for them, for the country and we mourned for ourselves. Because I live with forgiveness in my heart for those who harmed me, hatred replaced by love, fear replaced by courage, I no longer embrace killing, revenge or hatred. I look with compassion on those who hurt and on those who were the cause of hurt. I will never forget that day. In remembering my heart aches.
How has that day changed us? We went to war and many more lives were lost. We argue it is better to fight a war in a country other than our country and justify the invasion of a foreign county on that logic. We killed Osama and there was rejoicing and celebration of a killing. The ludicrousness of this response hit home to me when my 13 year old grandson says “Mimi, we killed Osama and I am happy we killed and we need to kill all terrorists.” I had a vision of his children and the suffering they endured at the loss of their father. I felt compassion for them. I believe that choices create consequences and Osama made that choice the day he ordered attacks on America. He created his own outcome. I think the world is probably better off without him. Yet, I don’t rejoice at killing. Revenge begets revenge. I also believe that perhaps his death might free up those people who followed him to perhaps choose a different course in life. We don’t know. What I do know, is that the words of my grandson impacted me as we’ve taught our children violence is the solution to pain, fear and loss.
We were victimized on 911. We don’t have to choose to maintain victimization. Freedom from victimization begins with forgiveness. Forgiveness sets us free. A quote:
“In all of his suffering, as in all of his life and ministry, Jesus refused to defend himself with force or with violence. He endured violence and cruelty so that God’s love might be fully manifest and the world might be reconciled to the One from whom it had become estranged. Even at his death, Jesus cried for forgiveness for those who were executioners: “Father, forgive them”. The Challenge of Peace
What if the message of 911 was an awakening to our hatred, our prejudice, our violence, our unloving heart, our unacceptance. What if we respond now in an understanding that we are one with all people of all nations regardless of their beliefs, their lifestyles, their ethnicity. What if today we come to understand that we are all one heartbeat of God’s loving heart. What if we choose forgiveness, love, peace in response to fear and violence? What if we learn to accept one another and not impose our dogmatic beliefs?
I read a quote many months ago which I probably have read many times. This time it hit home in my heart. When asked by a young man if Mother Teresa would march in an anti-war protest, she responded “Young man, let me know when you march for peace and I will join you.” I realized it was time to stop being against and start being for. I am for peace and harmony. I am for safety of all children. I am for the love and respect of all people whether I agree with their philosophy or lifestyle or religion. I am for the sanctity of all life. I am for people to understand their life journeys. As I changed my perspective I understood the energetical shift within me from a negative outlook to a positive. I moved from judgment to acceptance.
We have a choice in how we respond. We can choose forgiveness, the gift of love, and experience peace within that can then be shared with others.
Originally shared in my Second Chances blog. Also important to share the transformative process. Comments welcome.