9/11/16 – the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States by al-Qaeda, Osama ben Laden’s Islamic extremist group which hijacked four U.S. commercial passenger planes and flew two into the World Trade Twin Towers in New York City. The 3rd and 4th planes were destined for Washington DC; one, as planned, was crashed into the Pentagon while the last was diverted and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania when passengers charged and fought the hijackers preventing the completion of their mission. This orchestrated event caused the death of three thousand innocent people and injured six thousand others. Among those killed were 78 police officers and 200 firefighters during rescue efforts. TV cameras were at hand; live broadcasting of the events covered the world.
Following is my journal entry on the 1st anniversary of that event.
9/11/2002 – it was a year ago today when the unthinkable happened—unthinkable that America could be the victim of such a profoundly horrendous surprise attack; unthinkable that human beings could be so callous as to perpetuate such a heinous act; unthinkable to consider the horror that the people in the planes and buildings must have experienced; unthinkable to realize that people round the entire planet could turn on a TV and watch the towers crumble to the ground in real time; unthinkable to calculate the degree of hatred that motivated such a morally depraved plan; unthinkable to learn that the hijackers considered it an act of worship to their god.
The Bible tells us that God created man in His image . . . a being with intelligence and reflective awareness capable of knowing right from wrong. To this being God gave free will—the power to choose any path in life.
How can we reconcile this in our minds?
--a segment of a religion has so perverted the image of god so as to perceive him in terms of pure evil!
--that is contrary to the Muslim religion which, like Christianity and Judaism perceives God as the creator of order and source of all that is good.
--could awareness of the unthinkable horror of which humans are capable spur us to work together to make conscious choices for the greater good?
Animals are programmed by instinct; free will is unique to humans. It is with that freedom we create our personal world, but beyond that, our actions affect a wider world. We live in a closed system within a vast universe, all activity in a closed system effects everything within that system. Whether God-given or the result of random chance, we hold creative/destructive power and our actions shape the world we occupy.
Events of the 20th and 21st Centuries have made us aware of mankind’s destructive powers: WWI, WWII, holocausts and genocides, atomic and hydrogen bombs, world-wide terrorism—the unthinkable has happened—that makes it imperative that we recognize we all share a common humanity, thus a common destiny; planet earth is one closed interacting system. The ‘unthinkable’ calls us to use our freedom and creative powers to actively identify and embrace values that can underpin a sustainable world.
The dream of a better world may seem impossible but consider how far humanity has come in creating a better world thus far:
--from the beginning of time most people were uneducated—after the invention of the printing press people gradually came to recognize the importance of education and now, all parents seek it for their children.
--it took until just 150 years ago for civilized society to acknowledge the absolute need to abolish slavery—and it came to be.
--the technological advances in the 20th Century connected all parts of the world by transportation and communications leading to the recognition of our home planet as one global world.
--following the ‘Great War’ leaders awoke to the need for nations to work together for their common good. After two decades of struggle, in 1942 ‘The United Nations Declaration’ established the UN. It’s importance and value has not yet been fully recognized because humanity’s advances are measured in centuries, not years—long term perspective is needed.
--in 1948 the UN adopted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.* It has been translated into hundreds of languages—the most translated document in the world. It is a beginning. It identifies the values needed for a sustainable world, fundamental values, which can be embraced by all peoples, as they are not connected to specific religions, yet can be found among all the world religions. It is the blue print for that ‘better world’—which can become a reality when adopted into the curriculum of all schools.
(* Google it)
line from a song: “Let there be hope in the dark of the night”