Gather together in their name
I sat down to write this article early Tuesday morning.
I wrote three sentences before deciding to check my e-mail. My brother
had sent me a note. As I opened it, I expected to read his usual three-sentence
email. Instead, I encountered the words: "the world trade center
just got hit by a plane. I saw it from my window."
At first, I thought it was impossible. He must have been
hallucinating. I scrolled through several news websites and saw nothing
even remotely close to what my brother claimed to have seen, but sure
enough, ten minutes later, I was being called to come see the television.
My brother was right.
Perhaps it is because I am from New York, perhaps it is
because I know lots of people whose lives have undoubtedly been changed
by the loss of a family member or friend, or perhaps it is simply because
events such as Tuesday's tend to stir patriotism in the bosom of complacency.
Whatever it is, I have found myself to be more angry at this attack than
I have ever been before.
I, like most other people, have sat stunned and confused
about what seems to be an inexplicable act of terrorism. As I sit, writing
this, I can hear the television down the hall announcing that war may
be impending. For a few seconds, I think war might just be justifiable.
I want revenge. I want someone to be responsible. I want to be able to
blame someone for causing all this pain, and I want those who are responsible
to have some viable reason to justify their actions. In other words, I
want this tragedy to make sense.
I am usually a pacifist. Revenge is usually an absurd concept
to me. Anger is usually easy for me to let go of. I'm trying to understand
why all of this has happened; I'm trying to decide why I'm feeling so
upset by an event that theoretically isn't personal.
Maybe the fact that I have walked the same floors all the
people who died walked on has something to do with it. Maybe the fact
that my sister's husband works in the Trade Center and just happened not
to be there at the time of its destruction has something to do with it.
Maybe the fact that so many other people's families weren't spared by
such a lucky twist of fate has something to do with it. Maybe I even feel
guilty about being so far away from home so that I can't be with those
people who have been more closely affected by this tragedy. Mostly, I
think my reactions to the unwarranted deaths and pain are triggered by
a complete inability to understand.
The question "why?" is certainly the one on everyone's
lips. I haven't even bothered asking it, because there is no answer anyone
could come up with that would satisfy me. There is nothing so offensive
or threatening that could ever warrant killing a person in my eyes, never
My only rationalization is that the people responsible do
not understand what it is to be human. They don't realize the pain that
they have caused individuals throughout the world. That they know how
much pain they have caused on a national level is unquestionable, and
it seems rather obvious that causing that pain to the nation was the whole
There is little doubt in my mind that this week's events
will be permanently imprinted in our minds and our hearts. They are events
that may take credit for tainting the idealism and faithful optimism of
our generation, among other catastrophic consequences.
And yet, in spite of the anger, the pain, the sorrow, and
the frustration, the word that has found permanence in my mind is forgiveness.
When we gather together to pray for the dead and the devastated families,
we should remember to forgive the perpetrators of this horror. Forgive
them for being so full of hate. Forgive them for ending so many lives.
Forgive them for hurting us in ways we don't even understand.
But, how can we forgive them?
I don't know how. I only know that we must.