If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. — Luke 6.32-36 NRSV
Does my way of life cause deep pain to others? The bits and pieces that make up the cellphone on which I write these words, for example, or the choice to drive rather than walk to the library that’s about a mile from my house, or the plenty I have and take for granted while others live in want and worse. These are questions worth asking today.
I’m married to somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to significant anniversaries. Celebrating or commemorating an event because it’s the 10th year or 25th is no more meaningful to him than the 7th or 23rd, or the 3.14th for that matter, although on our 25th anniversary he did allow that we had been together a good long while. And on the commemoration of this day I am sympathetic to him. We live with the memory every day, year in and out.
So it has been jarring, seemed odd and pointless, and at times more than a little annoying to listen to the media hype leading up to today. We were there. We remember. We walked by photos of the missing and ruined monuments of memorial candles and flowers daily, everywhere we went. We hustled our Kindergartener past a man on his way to work wearing a gas mask in the subway weeks after. We lived with the stench of the burning for months. We are revisited with dread when military jets fly over even now.
It seems pointless to dwell on these things year after year without also asking ourselves this: Does how we live cause others to live with constant sorrow, fear or dread? And what must we do, how must we change to better that? Because as much as I love being able to send this out to a few readers from my cellphone, it is not worth the cost if for one minute it means someone somewhere suffers so that I can.
The best thoughts I’ve heard on the events of 11 September, the words that have resonated with me more than any other, have repeatedly been those that emphasized love, forgiveness and mercy. I believe therein lies the way of great courage and peace. “…love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.” Dare we?