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Volume 35, No. 18

9/15/21 | Newsletter

From BPFNA - Bautistas por la Paz
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Inc.

Reflections on 9/11. The end of a long day… waiting for the light!

Yesterday, I grabbed my cell to turn off the alarm and saw the date, I remembered. 9/11

Like many, I was pushed back twenty years into my living room at the 2nd floor apartment of the Methodist building in Mexico City. The children were at school and it was my time with my usual cup of coffee and news. It was almost 9 am when I saw the images of one of the twin towers pierced and surrounded in black smoke... you know the rest. I closed my eyes, thought about Afghanistan and prayed: “Lord, is there hope for us? Can we do it? Can we build a world in peace?” 

Some of us knew this was a changing moment in our history. At the time, I have been working for 11 years as a missionary with International Ministries of the American Baptists Churches. I knew that some people and groups mistrusted and resented us associating our presence as religious workers to past historical interventionist activities against socialist or leftist or popular governments in Latin America. Even when I am a Puerto Rican with a strong national identity, I couldn’t help sometimes fearing especially after 9/11 that my family could become a target just because we had a USA passport. Just because we were citizens of a nation that throughout its history have brought pain and suffering to millions to keep its power, wealth and influence in the world.

We lived that day differently. Thousands were shocked and traumatized. Responders hastened to save lives. Media rushed to gain information, images and stories. Governments tightened their defenses. Parents, partners, families, friends and nations mourned. With pain and sorrow, anger mounted vowing to hunt down those responsible. Defense came in a spiral of violence. The “war on terror” brought costly invasions to Afghanistan and Iraq, close to 900,000 deaths and 38 million people displaced. Our defense has cost us at least $5.8 trillion.[1]

That day, terrorists celebrated, as some did yesterday, justifying the massacring of thousands with religious and righteous discourses. Yet, “...conflict remains the primary driver of terrorism” and the surge in far-right political terrorism has increased exponentially.[2] But this more than seeing the world with different eyes, but acquiring power in different ways.

Power itself doesn’t corrupt but it does “heighten our moral identity, ethical behavior and innate aggressiveness.”[3] Evil dresses in many disguises, but when power is involved there is none more hideous dress than a ‘righteous’ one for it clothes the twisted craving for power, or deep-seated fear as justice (Is 5:20). The spiral of violence and terror will accompany us until we learn to seek true equity, justice, love and ecological balance for all. That will require ‘power’ to be seen in a different way and ‘truth’ about ourselves and our actions.

There is no measure for the horrors and suffering especially for those who loss a dear one in the mayhem of that day or during the long years it took the toxic fumes to claim or damaged the lives of the responders, the survivors and those who lived or worked in the neighborhood. But there is also no measure for the courage, the passion for life, the resiliency and will to move forward of each and every one affected by 9/11.

It is late. Midnight is here. So, I write this purposely at the end of this long day, waiting for a new day to be born. In that juxtaposition of an unending pandemic and ideological lies that brings an eerie similar use of ‘righteous dresses’ this night, I resist giving up hope. And I hope for a new day to be born because I believe that the way of Jesus opens up the possibilities of life for all. And maybe, just maybe because there are so many of us seeking peace, there will always be a path for life after this day.

May the Lord keep our faith.
May the Spirit kindle our hope.
May our actions birth Peace.

[1] Dylan Matthews. “20 years, $6 trillion, 900,000 lives: The enormous costs and elusive benefits of the war on terror.” Vox. Sep 11, 2021.

[2] “Global Terrorism Index 2020: Measuring the Impact of terrorism.” Institute for Economics & Peace. 4 Feb 2021.     

[3] DeCelles, Katherine A. et al. “Does power corrupt or enable? When and why power facilitates self-interested behavior.” The Journal of applied psychology 97 3 (2012): 681-9 .