Our lives together are made up of many moments. These are the stretches of time that are unified – or at least loosely held together – by our awareness focused or framed by particular thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. The moments in time may be short or long. They can last for seconds or for years. They overlap with one another; mutually flavouring one another.
Fifteen years ago today, a long moment began. The events on that day afflicted the city in which I now live – and the country and world I call home – with mayhem, death, and trauma. Fear rose up across the land like a great dust storm. It is a storm that has raged, now, for a decade and a half.
During the moment that began on 11 September 2001, ideals of liberty, human and civil rights, and trust in one another and in the Divine have been obscured. At times, I think we have lost sight of who were were and who we are. I think we have lost sight – worst of all – of the values that have the ability to positively shape who we can become.
In some ways, the central concern is not who did what or for what purpose. It is also not about what might be done by someone else today, tomorrow, or any day. What is most important is what each of us chooses to do right now.
I believe we should live better than we have been living in the bleak and depressing moment since that day fifteen years ago. The fear – and the cultivation of fear – has worn thin for me. I yearn to live life shaped by love of neighbour and faith in God’s love for us. I want to stop cowering behind ever-elusive promises of ‘security’ so that I can stand up as a free man and live a life of liberty – knowing full well that liberty can only be had if each individual has the courage to take responsibility for its daily cultivation and preservation.
Just as the descent into the long moment of fear was a change of mind – so it is that claiming one’s liberty and inaugurating a new and better moment takes a change of mind. Indeed, it takes an act born of the heart; it takes an act and commitment to courage.
I am done with appeals to cowardice. I am done with rhetoric of suspicion and division that pits neighbour against neighbour. I am done with letting go unchallenged the blaspheming of God by human beings’ acts of hatred and violence being attributed to this or that person’s faith (mine or anyone else’s).
I take this new day to declare a new moment and the end – at least for me – of the soul-enslaving moment of the past fifteen years. With prayers, with purpose, and with love, I choose to change my heart and mind. I choose to live a life worthy of one created by God. I choose to care for those around me. I choose to live in peace and with respect for all persons. I choose to care for the earth and all who live here. And I choose to extend my hand – in courage and in hope – to you. May we, together, honour the memory of all around the world who have suffered by building a better life together from now onward.