Writing to you on the eve of September 11 , 2011, ten years after the horrific event that caused thousands of deaths and thousands more untold grief and suffering. As I sit here in my little room in Ireland I cannot help but wonder and reflect . After ten years it feels like many of us are still struggling to come out from behind a cloud of shock. Many are still searching themsleves to find a response that is deeper than reaction. Perhaps our very first response , as I remember it, was a clue that we can hear even now these many years later. For many of us, and I was one who was in Washington, D.C. on that day, there was an immediate and deep response. It was the call to enter the silence of the soul. We became wordless. There was no immediate reaction. Our eyes closed. Tears may have flowed. We sat. We collapsed. We felt the weight of grief and loss. We fell into soul.
I wonder how it would have been if we had remained in this soulful place for a while longer. Now, I'm speaking about those of us who lived in the United States and to those of us who formed , in one way or another, the official response to what we now call 9/11. For a moment , out of the silence, many of us asked the question: "WHY? WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?" It was a question that rose from ashes and soul. And for a moment we pondered this question in openness of heart and deeply felt grief. However, very quickly , it seemed to me, our politicians and media presented the American people with a new question: " HOW DO WE EXACT REVENGE?" In truth, the first question of why was never truly answered.
Very soon after 9/11 our American President encouraged us to " live life as normal. Go out and shop." We were instructed to return to the buying and selling that defines much of our American way of life. We were told also that we were attacked because our American way of life was " hated" and our "freedoms" were the very thing that was under attack. And that was that. Soon afterward plans were formed and executed to launch an invasion on Iraq as our response to 9/11.
In all of this , I see two very different responses and calls. The first is a call to soul and to silence. The second is a call to violence and to buying and selling. It is a huge over-simplification, I know, but there is something here that connects soul to silence. And there is something here that connects violence to buying and selling, especailly in our set priced world where everything has a set price that welcomes some and excludes others.. Furthermore, we take every opportunity to buy and sell, believing that this is at the heart of our very lives and existence as a people.
Today, on the eve of 9/11, as I receive this notice from Facebook and that e-mail offering this book, that documentary, this new CD , all about Iraq, Afghanistan, and the meaning and implications of 9/11, I am reminded of our former President's imperative to " go out and shop." There was a violence in those words not unlike today , only ten years after 9/11 when the buyers and sellers appear once again . It's like we were in the Temple two thousand years ago. Do you remember the Gospel story? In the midst of great suffering the buyers and sellers appeared there too. Then, according to the story, Jesus walks in. He sees the suffering of the people and how the sellers are taking advatage of the moment to sell their CDs, books, documentaries... This is one of the rare times when gentle Jesus flies into a rage. He becomes a wild man on a mission. His anger knocks over CD and book tables, baskets full of money, and chairs of power and prestige as he calls the people to a deeper , more soulful response- a call to prayer.
It seems to me that we are still in this Temple., this holy ground of humand suffering. It has only been ten years. Not long for those whose suffering remains raw. Can we choose a response that is counter to our consumer driven culture? Can we now join in solidarity with those whose tears are not yet dry? Can we find within ourselves a deeper response? Rather than offering them the newest CD, book, documentary, with a reduced rate or discount, can we not offer them the silence and prayers and love of our hearts? And in that silence perhaps we may find something . Something that we may have lost ten years ago when we rushed to war and onto the streets to buy and sell.
Perhaps we can . Tomorrow is Sunday, the 10th anniversary of 9/11. During the day or evening can we sit in soulful silence? Can we enter that place and be in solidarity? Perhaps for 1 hour of our day or evening. Just one hour. It will not be broadcast on any media. No bookstore will be able to sell it. No celebrity will have their picture on the cover. And can we fast? Can we fast just for tomorrow from buying and selling? Can we live our lives without this? Can we offer this as well in solidarity with the thousands who have died and with the thousands more who feel their loss?
Your Little Brother,