Yesterday, September 11, was the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of people and changed our world forever. In Framingham and in many towns and cities around the world, there were ceremonies remembering those who died and honoring those who risked their own well-being to help.
In our Open Spirit Steering Committee, we paused for a moment to reflect on September 11th in relation to our theme for the year, “Inspiring Courage.” As we remember September 11, 2001, what does courage mean for us?
We talked about the way terrorist acts are intended to leave us paralyzed by fear. Courage means refusing to allow fear to keep us from living well.
We talked about the impact of terror (including mass shootings that aren’t typically labeled as terror) on our community relationships. Acts of terror lead us to view our neighbors with suspicion, especially our neighbors who look or sound different from us, or who worship in a different way. Courage means choosing instead to reach out, learn from each other and build deeper, stronger relationships.
We talked about the instinct to counter violence with more violence, accelerating a spiral of hatred and destruction. Courage means choosing a different path. We pointed to our Saturday morning speaker at our upcoming Weekend of Spirit (Oct. 19+20) as someone who inspires courage in us. Robyn Bernstein lost her mother on September 11th. As she grieved a terrible loss, she chose to respond in a positive way, joining in with a nation-wide movement of family members of people who were killed that day. The group, called Peaceful Tomorrows peacefultomorrows.org, seeks to turn their grief into positive action, working to create a more peaceful world, building bridges of understanding.
I had the privilege of having tea with Robyn last month, and I can’t wait to hear her at Weekend of Spirit! I trust we will all be inspired by her courage, and inspired to claim our own courage to live well, to deepen relationships, and to transform our grief and fear into positive action.