September 11, 2001 evokes many emotions in the American people. Fear, horror, hatred, grief, unity, courage, heroism and bravery are just a few reactions that spring to mind when I recall the day that four commercial airplanes were hijacked and subsequently killed many and destroyed our nation’s illusion that we are safe from the world of terrorism.
Unfortunately, the residual effect from this horrendous event doesn’t seem to be love and forgiveness, but rather judgment and prejudice.
In fact, a dear friend who happens to be a Muslim and first generation American of Yemen descent has told us numerous times that he faces obstacles every time he travels by airplane. Since 9/11, he has experienced many uncomfortable incidents with other passengers and security just because of the way he appears.
In addition, other friends who are Hindu of Indian descent have encountered similar situations of misjudgment, discrimination and unfairness when traveling by air since that fateful day.
Man, oh man…my heart aches for these friends. Especially, since I know from personal experience that they are some of the nicest guys in the world!!
BUT, am I any different from the offenders? Do I show the same prejudice to those who are of a different race, religion or financial status for that matter when fear is a motivating factor?
Uhhh…I really wish I could say ‘yes’ here, but I do not think that would be an honest answer.
Sadly, these merciless characteristics are found in each of us all too often when dealing with others who are different than ourselves. The list of distinguishing attributes that create division among us is long and disappointing. And it makes no difference who you are or where you are from!!!
The episodes of ugliness go way beyond the fear of a guy who looks like a 9/11 terrorist. It includes people who choose another political party, way of life, different religion or live on the wrong side of the tracks. Daily, we are faced with diverse individuals and have the opportunity to show the love of Christ.
So, WHERE’S THE LOVE?
Why can’t we smile instead of gawk? Forgive in the place of blame? Include opposed to reject? LOVE INSTEAD OF HATE? Shut our mouth when no one is asking our opinion or at the very least be kind when they do? (I have a problem with the last one…sigh.)
I can’t help but recognize that many of us have become like the Pharisees found in the New Testament and I’m not just talking about religious people…WE is a collective word.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. Matthew 23:1-5
As I’ve said before, it is critical to remember that Jesus commanded us to love one another (see John 13:34). And he did not give any ‘outs’ or ‘good reasons’ not to obey this directive.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; …. 1Corinthians 13:1-13
Therefore, as you remember the fallen victims and heroes of 9/11, please remember to be kind to others who look different, think different and may BE different from yourself.
The same God made us ALL and we will ALL stand in judgment by God one day (see 1Corinthians 4:5).
Some Wisdom for Today: Proverbs 10:12 – Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.