It was thirteen years ago. Devastation came to my neighborhood.

World Trade Center, 9/11/11, photo by James Nachtwey

I remember my first trip by the site the following week. The smell that hung in the air. The shocked, hard faces of the soldiers who stood guard along Broadway. The glimpses of the wreckage one block over. And my fellow citizens filing by, a commuting crowd unlike any other I'd seen.

The attacks of that day soon led to more attacks. Thirteen years later, we are in a seemingly perpetual war. The wounds of 9/11 were used to justify more attacks, including the evil disaster that was the invasion of Iraq. Now a new American President is calling for a re-engagement in Iraq and escalation of warfare in the region.

Colin Powell had the right idea - "you break it, you own it" - but America has never owned up to our responsibility for breaking Iraq, for breaking the troubled political balance of the Middle East, or for unleashing the dogs of war which have now killed hundreds of thousands.

Over the last 13 years, the United States of America has been waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq and Yemen and Pakistan and Libya and Syria. If we had used a tenth of that war spending on non-violent interventions, the world would be a better place. And so would America.

Someday, we may have a leader or be a people who do not see air strikes and arms as the only option. Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.*

We are reaping the bitter harvest of the killing we have sown around the world for the past 13 years. We cannot have a better harvest until we sow a better kind of seed.

God always remembers the victims. On this solemn day of remembrance, let us also remember our own folly.

* The Apostle Paul's Letter to the Galatians, 6:7.


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