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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"FIVE YEARS LATER: The Courage to Love"

This is a condensed version of The Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers sermon on Sept. 10, a reflection on the five years that have passed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

The scripture reading was Mark 2: 1-16

The day after September 11, an American businessman trying to get back home found himself in a cafe in Athens, Greece. When the cafe's customers discovered his nationality, they rose up together and offered him this toast, "As one, shoulder to shoulder till Justice is done." The French periodical Le Mond had as its headline "We all Americans." Now 5 years later, all of those sentiments have disappeared. This is partly due to the fact what we are unable as humans to sustain such sentiments. But mostly this is due to what we did with all those sentiments follwing 9-11.

What we did was 1) Declare war on a people who had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks and 2) Declare that the Constitution was an impediment to our need for security. Civil liberties were declared to be Civil Weaknesses.

Franklin Roosevelt, facing the twin threats of civil unrest due to the Great Depression and worldwide destruction due to the threat of Fascism declared, "All we have to fear is fear itself." In our time the sentiment is, "All we have is fear."
In 1993, the first attempt to bring down the World Trade Towers occured. Our response at the time was to track down those responsible for the attacks without involving those innocent of the attacks by resorting to war.

What we failed to recognize in our rush strike back at someone, anyone in order to appease our need for revenge is the true source of terrorism. Terrorism is the result of arrogance. Terrorism is hatred due to arrogance. Hatred is the enemy, and hatred cannot be overcome by force. Fear and intimidation never wins hearts and minds. The chief result of our violence is to turn Osama Bin Laden into a "rock star" and give him an unending supply of suicide bombers to carry out his missions.

Our need for security always outstrips our ability to provide it. Sadness and grief should not provide us with an occasion for creating more sadness and grief. We must recognize living in fear means we must live outside of love since it is fear, not hatred, that is the opposite of love. We should say, "We have sinned and come short of God's will for us." We need to heed the prophetic voice and quit our national denial. We owe that much to those who died both in the 9-11 attack and in our response to those attacks. We owe them the courage to love.

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