Church newsletter article for 11th September 2011
Ten years ago we had an American friend from New York staying with us.
Ten years ago was 9-11, the day two hijacked planes were flown into the Twin Towers, resulting in almost 3000 deaths.
Having our friend staying with us gave us a very human insight into what was going on. Shock, anger, worry and worry were played out in front of us as she struggled to get home and tried to find out about her family and friends that she had left behind. It was a horrible time.
They said that the world would never be the same again, and in many ways the political landscape was changed dramatically. The shadows of that event can be seen covering much of foreign policy around the world since, both good and bad. How to respond to such an event?
Perhaps key in reflecting on our response are the Old Testament laws about revenge in Exodus 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21 with the well known phrase ‘an eye for an eye’. The danger of our taking justice into our own hands is that we tend to hit back harder than we were hit in the first place, leading to an even bigger reprisal to our response and so on. Quickly things get out of hands; these laws were put in pace to prevent such escalation. Of course Jesus took things even further than this. In Matthew 5:38-39 he said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)
Challenging words from a challenging man. I’m sure Jesus wasn’t saying that we should simply let evil actions run riot, but I think instead he was calling us to be creative in our responses (read the rest of the chapter) so that whilst highlighting what is wrong, we don’t escalate the situation, become that which we are protesting against, or respond in a way that shuts off the chance for forgiveness (a two-way process, expressing remorse and having it accepted) and reconciliation.
As we remember, it is good to consider how we have responded. Perhaps the best commemoration we can make is to actively work to increase understanding and friendship between West and East, Christian and Muslim, religious and non-religious.