I read several compelling reactions to September Eleventh yesterday. I read about friends who lost friends and loved ones in the Trade Towers and the Pentagon. I read about how other friends now react to the phrase 9/11 will anger based on the frequent use of the phrase to justify assaults on our national values.
Something that really hit me came from my wife who runs a Montessori preschool. She wrote that she began this September 11 just like September 11, 2001. There was no reason to close the school then–although some parents kept their children home. She assembled the kids on that day, and yesterday, and recited the pledge before the American flag. Again, something she does everyday. This year, all but one of the forty children in her school was born after the tragedy.
It says something about time marching on. But it also makes me wonder if we’ve learned enough. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded us as follows:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
I say learned enough, because the enemies in our current state of unrest are different from us. How can we love them if we don’t first try to understand them. I wonder if it would be possible to have conversations with fundamentalist Christians about feeling like they are isolated by their faith, and the frustrations at seeing a world becoming more secular. I wonder if we could talk to American Indians about the pain of having land taken away from you.
I’m not talking about the people that are driven to violence. I don’t thinking loving our enemies requires ignoring threats of violence whether we’re talking about our homes, our communities or our world. I do think understanding those who hate us, can make it easier for us to follow Christ’s command.