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Seeking Peace, Defining Justice, Reaching for Love: People of Faith Respond to September 11, 2001
One month after the terrorist attacks on the U.S., we find our nation in a kind of war never known before. Unitarian Universalist congregations are filled with people who seek to understand the ethics of war and the need for a just response to tragedy in an environment needing the balm of peace and understanding.
Amber Amundson, whose husband, Craig, was among those Unitarian Universalists killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks, writes, "Craig enlisted in the army and was proud to serve his county. He was a patriotic American and a citizen of the world [who] believed that by working from within the military system he could help to maintain the military focus on peacekeeping and strategic planning—to prevent violence and war. For the last two years Craig drove to his job at the Pentagon with a "Visualize World Peace" bumper sticker. This was not empty rhetoric or contradictory to him, but part of his dream."
She continues, "I do not know how to begin making a better world: I do believe it must be done, and I believe it is our leaders' responsibility to find a way. I urge them to take up this challenge and respond to our nation's and my personal tragedy with a new beginning that gives us hope for a peaceful global community."
In Austin, TX, Rev. Davidson Loehr said in his sermon of September 16 (PDF), "The wisest teaching I know of that still applies to these murders comes from Confucius. 2500 years ago, he said we should repay good with kindness, but repay evil with justice. That seems the noblest and most humane goal here. We should strive to repay these deeds not with vengeance, but with justice. But what is justice here? Justice might be defined as truth plus compassion plus power. And while it does not require that we love our enemy—a teaching for calmer situations that would be vulgar here—the quest for justice does require that we try to understand these people who threw away their lives, and more than 5,000 American lives with them."
And in Marblehead, MA, Rev. Mary Harrington writes (PDF) of the need to reach out to one another to form a community of understanding and peace: "As we keep sifting through the rubble in New York, as we watch the news and hear about the attacks on Afghani targets, anthrax, and the anti-American demonstrations taking place across the globe; as we struggle to comprehend what is going on still, even so, when your mind and heart reach the limit of human understanding, don't forget: There is a Love holding All. May you find, here and there, a moment to rest in that Love. "