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9/11: Nine Years Later

I still wonder if we have understood that our best defense against evil is what the New Testament asks, no, requires of us: understanding, acceptance and love.

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This is the ninth September 11 since the infamous attacks but instead of being in the city I am up here in the Berkshires hiking the Appalachian Trail with Millie on a perfect day not unlike the day none of us will ever forget, especially those of us who were in New York and Washington and Shanksville.

Yet in a strange way this place too has a connection. It was above Great Barrington, Massachusetts, that the terror pilots diverted American flight 11 from its L.A.-bound course from Boston and onto its deadly trajectory. The local paper even quoted a resident or two who said they saw the plane high in the sky above the town.

From here the terrorists picked up the Hudson River a few miles west over Hudson, New York, turned southeast, and simply followed the ribbon of water far below all the way to the Twin Towers. It was all the navigational skill required.

I’m rather glad to be out of New York today and into nature with my dog. All of the controversy of the past week or so since I got back from Europe has discouraged me, especially this Koran-burning pastor in Florida. And I don’t know what to say about the mosque controversy except that this being New York something will get worked out. It is the capital of diversity and has been for centuries. Just read the names of the people who died in the towers that day and you will see virtually every faith and nationality in the world tragically represented. This was not just an attack on New York or Washington or America. It was an attack on humanity itself. Despite our differences humanity is the family we all belong to. It is the family of God.

Staring up through the tree tops at that same unbelievable cerulean sky and wondering how death could have descended from it, and looking back these nine years, I still wonder if we have understood that our best defense against evil is what the New Testament asks, no, requires of us: understanding, acceptance and love. Let’s leave the burning to the haters.

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