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Healing

Posted by Julie on 9/19/01 at 05:05 (060920)

Dear friends

My friend Karen, who lives in New Jersey, sent me the following. It's by Lester Edwin J. Ruiz, Ph.D., Professor of Theology and Culture at the New York Theological Seminary. I'm posting it in the profound hope that its grace, and the spirit of healing in which he wrote it will find its way into all our hearts and minds.

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

The fall of the World Trade Center is a reminder of the death of
innocence.

The death of thousands can not be condoned, not even in the name of
justice and freedom; but neither can the response of revenge or retaliation, not
even in the name of justice and freedom.

There is no doubt in my mind that the death and destruction brought about
by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, quintessential
symbols of US power and privilege, have raised for all people of goodwill
the specter of 'extremist violence' as an inextricable part of modern life
in the US.

These past few days we have been inundated by images in the media of what
so deceptively has been called an 'attack on America.' People are angry,
saddened, and scared-and, understandably so. Human life is so precious,
not only in the US, but all over the world, that the loss even of one person
is enough reason for us to grieve as a people. In the past few days, many
Americans have shown their grief for such a loss. We must not forget this
capacity for grief. Equally important, we must not forget the heroic
compassion of those who are, even now, engaged in the work of saving
lives. This, too, we must never forget.

Even more understandable is the passionate and determined, if thoughtless,
plunge to find and punish the perpetrators of these dastardly acts-despite
all the warnings and caveats about being fair, about making sure they are
clearly identified, and so forth and so on. Many in this fair land, this
so-called 'land of the free,' this America, the Beautiful, are pressing
not only for answers, not only for justice, but, also, and sadly so, for
revenge, if not vindication.

The easy targets-the scapegoats-are the Muslims, the Arabs, or any
Arab-looking, or Arab-sounding person. For many, there are no
distinctions. They must all be guilty, they say, (by virtue of the culture they share
with 'those terrorists')-never mind that they are also Americans. It is as if
we have not learned the lessons of Oklahoma City-where the immediate suspects
were those 'hated Arabs...' but where the guilty was a Timothy McVeigh. It
is as if we have not learned our lessons from the internment of
Japanese-Americans during World War II. It is as if we have not learned
the lessons of Vietnam. Or of the witch hunts in Salem. Or the genocide
against Native Americans and Afro-Americans.

To be sure, it is to the credit of some in the media that this ugly
underside of America the Beautiful is being reported as well: the
vandalism against mosques, the harassment of Muslim families...
Do we have the grace to learn that the accumulation of historical actions
of our America the Beautiful has caused so much pain and suffering elsewhere
in the world that it now comes back to haunt us, and exacts a price so high
by the sacrifice of the innocent? Have we not yet understood how na?ve we are
to ask why 'Americans are hated so much in other parts of the world?' That
this is neither envy nor greed, but rather, a cry of protest, even if the
form of that cry is morally indefensible?

When will we see that the death of the innocents at the World Trade Center is
profoundly related to the death of innocence, and that this death of
innocence has its roots in America's 'eternal return' to its decisions to
create and re-create itself through the violence of its power and
privilege? No doubt, the death of thousands on September 11, 2001 will forever be
part of who we are as human beings. The heroism of those who came to help will
forever be a part of who we are as human beings. Indeed, all of us will
have been changed by these events.

But, let us also pray that the death of the innocents will remind us that
our history has put innocence to death. If we want to break this cycle of
violence, we will need to unilaterally humble ourselves, seek forgiveness,
and pray that we shall be granted the gift of a second chance personally,
politically, historically by the One who, in his innocence, opened the way
towards healing and transformation.

Somewhere in the Old Testament there is a beautiful passage which I can
barely remember, but which will not let me go: 'If my people, which are
called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face,
and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will
forgive their sin, and will heal their land' (II Chronicles 7:14).

May God grant us the wisdom to discover the opportunity in this almost
incomprehensible attack on humanity to repent of the violence in our own
lives, and in that repentance, together see our way to creating a world of
kindness, justice, and humility.

Lester Edwin J. Ruiz, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology and Culture
New York Theological Seminary

Re: Healing

Steve P on 9/19/01 at 15:13 (060966)

Julie --- A thoughtful piece. The one point I was looking for but didn't see:

We must do what is necessary to make sure that this never happens again.

That is what Mr. Bush & his coalition partners will do.
Fortunately 80% of the American people & their clergy of all faiths agree.

Best...........Steve

Re: Healing

Steve P on 9/19/01 at 15:13 (060966)

Julie --- A thoughtful piece. The one point I was looking for but didn't see:

We must do what is necessary to make sure that this never happens again.

That is what Mr. Bush & his coalition partners will do.
Fortunately 80% of the American people & their clergy of all faiths agree.

Best...........Steve