Twenty years ago, I, like every American, remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. None of us knew what would happen in the days that followed. We were quick to place blame, quick to vow revenge, quick to turn on others. We rushed to war because it was the only response we could understand for the acts of violence committed that day.
According to Brown University’s Cost of War project, there were approximately 240,000 deaths because of the war in Afghanistan, 80 times the number of deaths on 9/11. The UN says 6 million Afghans have been displaced, either internally or internationally. The number of deaths in the Iraq war is harder to pin down, but a United Press International article in 2005 estimated 128,000. Although the estimates range to as many as 655,000, the most accurate numbers seem to be between 100,0000 and 150,000 people. Over 60% women and children under 12.
We could go on. The birth of ISIS. The radicalization of both Muslims and Christians. Suffering.
How many of us, 20 years ago, would have thought that 20 years on, the world would be a more dangerous place, a worse place? How could we have imagined the world as it is today?
Here is the radical ask of the Gospel. Here is how we could have prevented all of this. Here is how we can fix it still.
Forgive and ask for forgiveness in return.
Fear leads to anger, anger to hate, hate to suffering. Perfect love drives out fear.
Perfect love is both the gift we have been given and the gift we have to give. The end of fear is our only hope to make the world a better place. Our only chance for lasting peace in the fullest sense, not just absence from conflict, but true wholeness.
Love. Forgive. Ask for forgiveness. Make peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.