9/11 is fast approaching. Over the years, I’ve served in the military thinking I might contribute to ease the national anguish and pain. It did no such thing, I was more confused and perhaps more suffering were brought by two wars and countless deaths. To this day, I tear up thinking about my friends who never came back from Iraq and all the children and the innocent Iraqis in passing.
These days I dread listening to the news: Americans so intolerant to anything remotely Muslim and teachers are passing anger and hatred to our children. I begin to wonder if I had spent four years on active duty defending the right kind of ideals; I wondered if this nation will ever come to grips with the tragedy of 9/11 and its true meaning. I want to tell the ones making headlines that a Muslim architect is just as qualified to design the 9/11 Memorial; and there is no evil Islamic conspiracy if we don’t make it so. When I was in Iraq, I met many sane, educated, and goodhearted Muslims. I even met some Iraqi Christians. Despite their religion and the fact a platoon of men with automatic weapons insisting on coming into their homes and tossing their things to see if they had weapons, they were friendly and offered us tea.
Maybe I am naïve and maybe they have more devious intentions. Maybe their tea had poison. I never thought about those things twice, and I accepted their hospitality graciously. Maybe it was because I was a medic, I accepted the good will easily and I made friends easily.
That is not to say there are no underhanded plots against us in Iraq. Every day we went outside of our wires, I feared for IEDs. Those who saw the American injustice and uncaring characters waged war against us; those who were affected by the careless international policies of the U.S. attacked us.
They have been taught to focus on words like “evil” “hatred” and “Infidels”; they are taught to remember our invasion and our attacks.
This morning I heard a radio segment about a school teacher wanting to teach our children about 9/11. The DJ reasoned that our kids are not learning about 9/11 in schools and hinted that perhaps one day we will forget.
Let’s never forget, but let’s remember things for what they are. The school teacher wanted her kids to remember the fact that we were “attacked” on that day; let’s teach our kids how to think for themselves and investigate, and let’s ask them why we were attacked on that day. The most important thing, let’s ask them how we can forgive and never forget; how can we forge a meaningful relationship with our Muslim brothers and sisters for the good of our common human experience?
That is the human sustainability. Let us never forget and always forgive.
This year, Lauren and I will attend an Interfaith service at a local food bank to help feed the hungry. This year, we ask that instead of focusing on the pain and hatred and hoping that you can have everyone back from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and all the servicemembers who passed away, I ask you to focus on what you can do to make the world a little better and more tolerable. Let’s not repeat the climate for to foster more terrorists.