A dignified & spiritually coherent way to remember
Bart Campolo, Abraham's Path
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A note from Rabbi Michael Lerner: As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many of us are wondering how best to honor the many victims of that tragedy and its aftermath in a way that does not yield to the militarism, chauvinism, and Islamophobia that have often been linked to or justified as appropriate responses to 9/11. So here is a note we got from one spiritual progressive, Bart Campolo, whose ideas are closely aligned with the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP).
Here in Cincinnati, my wife Marty's answer is inviting some of our friends to join us on a walk with some Muslim and Jewish families she invited by simply calling their congregations. She got the idea from me and my friends at Abraham's Path, who are sponsoring 911walks.org to help people find or pull together their own 9/11 Walks all over the USA and around the world. The goal of these walks is simple: To help people honor all the victims of 9/11 by walking and talking kindly with neighbors and strangers, in celebration of our common humanity and in defiance of fear, misunderstanding and hatred.
Think about it: Wouldn’t it be great if 9/11 became a day for Christians, Muslims, Jewish people, and everyone else to step over boundaries and walk kindly with ‘the other’, the way Martin Luther King Day has become a day for community service?
Our original idea was to organize one big cross-boundary walk in New York City, but officials there encouraged smaller walks instead. Now the idea is for lots of people - people like my wife and you - to organize 9/11 Walks in their own neighborhoods. Even as I write this, individuals and small groups from churches, mosques, synagogues, and everyday families are inviting each other to meet up on Sunday afternoon.
On the 9/11 Walks website you can easily find a walk or learn how to organize one of your own. All it takes is a few minutes, a few phone calls, and a little bit of hope and courage.
Even if you think its too late to invite others, just take a walk that day in solidarity with the rest of us. Step outside your door, greet a stranger or two you meet along the way, and then, when you come home, visit the 9/11 Walks Facebook page to enjoy walk stories and pictures from around the world...and maybe post a word of encouragement. That way you'll be 'in' on the ground floor of something I hope becomes an annual tradition of cross-boundary connection.
As we remember tragedy of 9/11, most us us also remember the wonderful ways neighbors and strangers reached out and connected with one another. I'm looking forward to rekindling some of that hospitality and kindness on our walk, and I invite you to do the same.