I’m going to gather pictures and presentations of and from different people from our Interfaith Prayer Service last September 11, remembering the attacks ten years ago, committing to a better future ten years later. Enjoy it, it’s really good stuff! See more information on other upcoming events at the Gaston Interfaith Center website, too.
(some members of Gaston Trialogue, co-sponsors with US! of the Service)
The first two entries here were read by me, by people that couldn’t be at the Service but wanted to participate, a prayer/poem and a meditation:
Gireesh Gupta, a Hindu neighbor
A 9/11 Prayer
Tuesday, 9/11/2001, was forever imprinted in our minds.
It was the day when mankind witnessed senseless hatred and violence.
It was the day when thousands of innocent men, women, and children died.
It was also the day when heroes in red, blue, yellow, and black suits
and brave men and women in white, black, and brown colors
so fearlessly and courageously saved lives and sacrificed their own
and left behind their children and spouses.
It was the day when the world saw the worst and the best of humanity
and it was the day when love triumphed over hatred.
Let us pray for the departed souls that fateful day.
Let us pray for the families of the victims who died.
Let us pray for the brave souls who fought the evil in the planes
and sacrificed their lives to save thousands of others.
Let us pray for the firemen and policemen who so bravely served.
Let us pray for the kind volunteers who rescued the buried.
Let us pray for the people of our great nation
who unified as one to fight this heinous and atrocious act.
Let us pray that God will give us the strength and courage
to fight evil with good,
to fight violence with kindness,
and to return hatred with love
for the true nature of love is peace.
Let us pray that one day there will be no violence in the world,
that good will overcome the evil and brotherhood and sisterhood will prevail,
and Mother earth will see all her children live together in harmony and peace.
(The Epstein family of Temple Emanuel leading us in prayers of lament)
Oscar Benitez, an Atheist neighbor
10 Years After, The State of My Mind
When Dennis asked me to write this piece, I was honored, but also at a loss. He wanted me to write about the impact and ramifications of 9-11, on me, the nation and the world. Keep in mind that this is the result of someone who is still young and whose eyes are not yet as seasoned as others, so many will take my words as naïve or even uninformed. Some may even disagree outright, or be enraged. We can’t all agree on everything.
First, as a non-believer, the impact of 9-11 was tremendous. It told me that I was to struggle against something. That something was not religion, but religious extremism and fundamentalism. As an atheist, my fight is not with religion. What must be fought is extremism in all of its forms, religious or otherwise, that foster intolerance.
This goes into the next part, which stresses the impact of 9-11 on a nation. We are now more paranoid and distrustful. Our government now engages in surveillance and abridging the rights of the people. We now edge ever closer to a police state in the likeness of 1984 or Brave New World. All because of a threat from an “other” that seeks to engulf us. Never mind that this boogey man, being Islamic fundamentalism inspiring terrorism, is only a few fringe groups scattered throughout the middle east, incapable of waging fullscale war on America, or either in power and supported by the US. The impact of 9-11 on the world is more frightening. There is great unrest, anxiety, conflict, and instability. War now, at least for the US, is unlimited in scope and duration. 9-11 exacerbated such an unstable world. Fear of the bogeyman now makes others react with their own brand of intolerance, as per the massacre committed in Norway. Now with a downtrodden economy, injured largely by fundamentalism of another sort, which others dub “free-market fundamentalism”, as well as massive military spending, and compounded with the problem of climate-change, the future looks bleak. All of this has ripples on the rest of the world. Indeed it may be said that this is a consequence of earlier empire building efforts of all super powers.
The way forward, in my opinion, is spirituality. Yes, I said it. What I mean by this is the acknowledgment that we are one. We are all connected to each other and the earth, and the universe. This is not religion, this is fact. Biologically, we are part of the biosphere on earth. We react to the earth as it reacts to us. It is simple cause and effect. We have also evolved as social beings, and we develop our minds by interacting with others. It may be said that it is others who make us. Now is not the time of selfishness. Don’t pay any heed to those who would have you believe that selfishness and greed is good, and altruism and a sense of community are bad. These kinds of people (I’m looking at you Ayn Rand) don’t really know what it is to be human, or how human society works, and their ideas are quite monstrous and dangerous. We must acknowledge suffering and all of its causes. We must fight these causes. Poverty, warfare, and sickness, then must be fought. We must stop being suspicious of one another. We must acknowledge the differences between us, and accept these differences, if we are to come together. Strength lies in diversity, not uniformity. If one looks at the world, there does exist conflict between those that are religious. But if one takes a second look, one sees that there is NO conflict between those that are spiritual. The spiritual Those that come together already know what is to be done. Fundamentalism is in fact threatened by the spiritual. Where fundamentalism says, “Only us.”, spirituality says, “All.” Spirituality defeats egotistical fundamentalism, in the words of Alejandro Jodorowsky. This then is a fight against the worst aspects of the ego.
“How He Loves”
and “If Everyone Cared”
Sam Shoukry of The Islamic Society of Gastonia shares his own thoughts on our future together.
Cindy Buckley of Queen of the Apostles Catholic Church shares a closing meditation from Gustav Niebuhr’s “Beyond Tolerance: How People Across America Are Building Bridges Between Faiths”, included below:
Those millions of us who lived or worked directly within the 9/11’s smoking shadows- the ruins of the Twin Towers and the crumpled walls of the Pentagon- did so under clouds we never expected to see, much less have to measure morally. Thousands of people were crushed and incinerated in our neighborhoods that day. Together, they belonged to a vast, radically diverse crowd, of many religions, many ethnicities and nationalities. What ultimately became of them? I mean, in this life, the life of the rest of us, who stood in terrified awe beneath those clouds. Did we the living breathe in their ashes as they floated invisibly to earth? And if we did, what do we owe those people? Surely, something more imaginative and more helpful than a war on terror. They deserve a better monument, a monument dedicated to life and to hope.
You can see the whole Service in the document below.
9-11 Memorial Service
Join us for our other upcoming interfaith events in October and November if you can!
Pictorial montage of the Service by Tammy Cantrell of Encaptured and Co.- enjoy!