(Dedicated to the memory of my Aunt Joan and Uncle Tom Moroney and their son Dennis. Dennis, a husband, a father of two and one of seven brothers, was murdered in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Aunt Joan and Uncle Tom suffered grievously but with dignity and now both are with him in eternal peace.)
I have a terrible habit of thinking in terms of ‘If only…” I think it about the little things. If only I had left earlier, I would not have gotten stuck in traffic. If only I had remembered milk I would have some for my tea. I think it about the big things. If only I had known I was going to develop MS, I could have saved more money. If only I had known my husband had a heart condition, I could have intervened and he might still be here today, enjoying his children and grandchildren instead of dying at 40.
And I think it about the huge things. If only human beings did not have such an enormous capacity for hatred and intolerance.
Most of the time thinking “if only” is futile. You didn’t, so get over it. Move on. You can’t change the past. On the other hand, “if only” can be a lesson. Be more organized, write things down, pay closer attention to the people around you. Oh yeah, and don’t hate and kill people because of their beliefs, skin color, gender preferences, or any other reason.
It is easy to be angry with someone who is not nice to you or is deliberately hurtful. But most of the time, you will not be moved to then murder them. So to take it the next step and hate a stranger, someone who has never uttered a word to you, to hate them because of who they worship or where they live, seems to me the least human of behavior. But I am clearly wrong, because centuries of history show that it is the most human of behavior.
I see two sides to the September 11 coin. One side is the horrific loss of vibrant, treasured, innocent people. The other side is the continued legacy of mistrust and bitterness that continues to pervade our world. The United States, and by extension, Americans, are despised for their perceived arrogance and ignorance. Muslims are held in fear and contempt, perceived as savage murderers. And those are only two groups I could cite. There are infinite sub-groups continually busy hating and killing each other all over the world.
The thing that most amazes me about this continued behavior is that NO ONE EVER WINS. No one. Hatred is never effective, never achieves the desired end, is never ultimately successful. And yet it thrives. I am clearly naïve and lack insight, because part of me just doesn’t get it. Why perpetuate actions that are doomed to failure? Then I think of our government, where partisanship and flat out antagonism continually undermines the good of our nation. I think of the animosity that arose this week in my family alone, a relatively tiny but bitter war where everyone was a loser. Then I realize, it all goes back to being human. And humans are infinitely flawed. So logic and facts do not count for much when one is blinded by hatred and a quest for vengeance.
I don’t know what the answer could possibly be. When faced with a dilemma, my first approach is usually prayer. There is a World Pray for Peace Day (September 21, my birthday ironically). There are many other Days of Prayer (National: First Thursday in May; Global: 5/27/12; World Peace & Prayer: usually in June; Women’s World Day of Prayer: this year was March 4; Unity World Day of Prayer: second Thursday of September), but these obviously haven’t worked yet. Of course almost all of them exclude non-Christian religions, so there might be a problem there. One wonders what exactly is being prayed for.
Armed hostility hasn’t worked. Negotiation hasn’t worked. What else is there? Communication? Education? Persuasion? None have worked. And we never learn. We are still hating and killing each other.
If only things were different. If only people were different. If only each and every child born in the world was taught human life is precious and we must cherish one another. If only...
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