Ten years ago today, I woke up at 9am central time thinking I heard someone crying.
A little later I went to Borders, and I heard the barista in the cafe talking with a person ahead of me in line. I could tell from their tone and the snatches I heard that something terrible had happened, and I knew I didn't want to hear it from some stranger at Borders, because then I would remember what that person said for the rest of my life.
So I just left and drove home, listening with horror to the radio. The whole time I was driving home I was crying and yelling "Not with that bastard in the White House!" I knew that W's response would be more disastrous than those acts of terrorism. And it was. And it still is.
Ten years later we are still at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our civil liberties are on life support. We can't fly anywhere (unless we're wealthy enough to own our own airplane) without either having naked pictures taken of our bodies or being groped by a complete stranger. We are less safe, in spite of the security theater that plays out daily in airports and malls. We are more afraid, we are more hateful, we are more hostile. Our collective wounds have not healed; they have only festered.
I pray for peace and healing for all who suffered so intensely ten years ago. I pray we find ourselves again. I pray we learn that hate begets only more hate. I pray we become a people of compassion rather than aggression, of understanding rather than ignorance, of quiet courage rather than noisy alarm. I pray we would end our wars and begin studying and practicing peace. I pray we would reclaim our civil liberties and defend human rights rather than subverting and undermining them. I pray that we would again abhor torture rather than celebrating and defending it. I pray that we would come to appreciate peoples and cultures who are different from us, rather than fearing and maligning them. I pray for peace and healing for all those who have suffered grief and loss in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks gave Al Qaeda exactly what it wanted: war. Ten years ago the United States had the sympathy and good will of much of the world. Instead of making the most of the opportunity that presented, we squandered it and launched ourselves into a decade of military aggression. Ten years is a very, very long time to be at war. Our volunteer troops are exhausted and haunted by all they have had to see and do.
Ten years is more than enough. It's time to wage peace.