On the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, I am moved to reflect on the horrible events of that day. Even with ten years gone by, most of us can recall exactly where we were when we learned of the attacks on our country. For many of us, the sorrow, fear, and anger of that day rest not so far below the surface. My heart goes out to all those who carry such a burden.
Though our country continues to heal from this ordeal, the past decade has tested our commitment to peace and unity, important foundations of our Unitarian Universalist movement.
In pursuing goals of safety and security, we have been asked by our government to be silent, compliant, and unquestioning, resulting in legislation like the Patriot Act. We have seen the erosion of basic civil rights and an alarming increase in bigotry, especially anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment.
We have seen wars that result in the senseless destruction of the natural environment and exact an unconscionable financial toll. As so many of us continue to struggle financially, we have watched our elected officials provide funds for the machinery of war, impeding our ability to make progress in education, health care, and other vital needs.
We have grieved, and continue to grieve, for the deaths and serious injuries to our brothers and sisters in the U.S. military, as well as to the countless men, women, and children caught in a conflict not of their making.
We have seen political bullies rewarded. We have seen the peacemakers of our country dismissed as weak and cowardly. It has not been easy to keep our hearts and minds open.
But let us also remember that the events of September 11, 2001, failed to destroy us. They did not diminish our compassion for others, did not take from us our ability to love, to heal, or to gather together as a loving faith community. And in the aftermath of that tragic day, we have been given the opportunity to demonstrate our deepest religious values.
True strength lies not in our ability to destroy our enemies, but in the sometimes difficult choice to turn away from violence and hatred. I believe that every day we choose to stand on the side of love is a day of victory. Instead of hatred, let kindness direct our actions. Instead of vengeance, let compassion be our show of strength. Indeed, they are our only hope for the future.
The Rev. Peter Morales
President, Unitarian Universalist Association