Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11, Remember to Love

I read this fantastic article this morning about 9/11 and it made me think of where I was on that fateful day. My mind went back to another time and place far from here but close to my heart.

I was in Fortaleza Brazil.

My great friend Kieran and I left the US on September third 2001 to begin our study abroad semester in Brazil. I remember feeling a mixture of happiness, excitement and fear as I headed to a land where I didn’t speak the language or know the people.

I decided to go there because Brazil has the largest population of black folks outside of Africa and is second only to Nigeria in having the largest population of black folks in a single nation. I wanted to see if our common ancestry as people of African Descent would lead to a common bond.

I had no idea that my world and the world as we knew it would be turned upside down in eight days.

The first week there was spent in orientation. The program focused on social justice so we spent that week reading about the different inequalities in the world. We read and discussed everything from inequalities of power, consumption of resources, poverty, and politics. On September 10th we talked about what our role would be in helping to make the world a better place. It is our responsibility to help bring balance to the world. If we don’t do it, someone else will.

Then BOOM… the towers were hit.

As I sat there, watching the towers fall, live, on international news from thousands of miles away, I wondered what we as a country would do. Would we seek revenge and attack whoever we thought was responsible? Or, would we use this as an opportunity to seek understanding about why folks might sympathize with these attacks; regardless of how wrong they were.

Of course the rest is history.

Today, nine years later, a small church in Florida has decided to make an international statement by burning Qurans. There are many folks around the world who are infuriated by this. They not only blame this church but also our entire nation and my faith for this act of violent disrespect.

Of course as Americans we know that this is a very small group of people with very radical beliefs. We know that they do not represent the values of a majority of US citizens. Sadly, we cannot control how the acts of a few people are received by others. The US and Christianity have been smeared with the blame reserved for this small, socially irresponsible church.

But is this surprising? Didn’t many of us do the same thing? How many of us looked at Muslims differently based on the acts of the terrorists on 911? How many of us felt a twinge of fear when we were on a plane with folks that we thought were from the Middle East? How many of us treated Muslims as enemies when those particular people had done nothing to harm us?

We all must try hard to view the world and others through the loving lens of graceful forgiveness. We must try to remember that the acts of a few people, or even the acts of powerful organizations, do not represent the hearts and minds of everyone they claim to represent. We must try our best to give everyone a chance at love, a chance at peace, a chance at redemption.

After all… that is what we want right? We all want the chance to be viewed by the content of our character, not by the actions of another.

So on this important day let us remember to honor the sacrifices of all of those who have suffered as a result of the attacks and the wars that followed. But let us also remember to love.

Love is the answer. It is the only path toward peace. 


  1. Hey Clarence, this is a great post! Excellent job man I totally agree. I dedicated my post to the memory of 911 too. Keep up God's good work man!
    Bless you!

  2. Hello Clarence, this was beautifully written. I agree. We say we're believers and practice a lifestyle of Christ, but where's the forgiveness?

    Yes I believe we should remember because it was a life changing event, but it should not be a time to hold grudges and hate for a group of people who are Muslim. The terrorist who did this evil just happen to be Muslim.

    It's the same as saying all black people are crooks because if you were to go into certain areas of South Central, you will get jacked. Where does it end?

    Anyway, I enjoyed your post.

  3. I was in South Africa on 9-11. It was a surreal experience watching from so far away...many people on the streets in Jo-burg said the US was asking for it...many felt horrible. I felt so numb and so disconnected and so distant.

    Love is most definitely the way forward, but why is something so simple, so hard to do?????


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