On 9/11, my first fear was for my children, and it crippled me so that I would not allow them to leave the house or attend school for over a week.
My next fear was for my dad, a Long Island police officer, and my extended family and friends in New York.
But, immediately on the heels of all of that blinding terror, came the worst horror or all: the realization that our government would go to war and not only war, but a war directed at countries filled with people who were not responsible for the actions of extremists, a war that would surely kill far more people and separate far more families than the tragedies I’d witnesses that horrible morning.
It was a sinking rock of certainty that crushed my heart, reminding me too clearly that I was powerless in the large picture, merely a spectator again to the tragedy that was yet to unfold, a tragedy that would increase death and suffering and terror exponentially.
We are all brothers and sisters on this small, blue ball, the great majority of us sharing the greatest loves of our lives: family, friends, hopes, talents. While I am proud of the camaraderie of many of my fellow Americans with each other, I am deeply saddened by the further marginalization of so many of our international brothers and sisters, as well as many Americans right here at home.
I could read until my eyes bleed without hoping to find the actual death toll of these wars to date, so I will settle for an estimate well over a million. Of those one million, how many loved ones are left behind, how many people are scarred by fear, how many soldiers have had their souls broken and battered?
How much further will we be separated from our fellow man, essential hating ourselves, since we all stem from the same place?
On this day, I will honor the fallen by meditating on the truth that we are all one. I will hold them in my heart and beg their forgiveness, as well as the forgiveness of our brothers and sisters around the world whose daily suffering eclipse the horrors of our one 9/11.
I will pray that our wars will soon be brought to an end, that we learn to recognize ourselves in each other, that the scars on our souls heal. I will pray that more people will understand that the hearts of the world’s different religions and philosophies are simply different ways of expressing our love to the same place.
Those who’ve lead us to believe otherwise are the truest villains of all, those who’ve used love and spirituality for politics and hate and greed and personal gain…they are Public Enemy # 1. The only way to wage war on them is through love. Please join us.
Editor: Kate Bartolotta