Today (September 11, 2021) is a special day of reflection, not only on the events that happened on this day 20 years ago, but on the devastating actions and reactions that have happened since then and how these choices have changed our world. We recall that for a brief time after the violent attacks of 9/11, the world was united in solidarity and empathy for the victims and for our country. But the United States chose to respond with retaliation and revenge, which led to more violence and to wars that claimed thousands of innocent victims. On this day, let us seriously consider how our history and the history of our world could have been different had we chosen to build on the sense of global solidarity, empathy, and the desire for truth and real justice. In his most recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti (FT), Pope Frances reminds us in paragraph 251 and 252:
Those who truly forgive do not forget. Instead, they choose not to yield to the same destructive force that caused them so much suffering. They break the vicious circle; they halt the advance of the forces of destruction.
…Forgiveness is precisely what enables us to pursue justice without falling into a spiral of revenge or the injustice of forgetting.
On this day, let us resolve to actively engage in dialogue, bridge building, and open-hearted remembering, so that we can learn from the lessons of history. Let us once and for all reject war as a method of resolving differences and as an instrument of “seeking justice”. For many centuries, war has been neither. Let us remember that violence and war “do not solve problems, …but instead introduce new elements of destruction into the fabric of national and global society.” (FT #255) We cannot address violence with violence—this only begets more violence. Let us commit ourselves to building a global culture of encounter through sharing, listening, remembering, and reconciliation.