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September 11th- Why?

The world will look back on this date for generations to come. It is a watershed in history, and things will never be the same. The question is: Will they be worse, or will they be better?

Perhaps the most commonly asked question since the attack is: How could a good God allow something like this to happen? It is a question asked after every catastrophic event. The answer is always the same, but that answer is not simple, and it is not easy to understand.

The veil between the physical and the spiritual worlds has been likened to a tapestry. From our side we see only the back of the tapestry, a confusing jumble of threads with no apparent design or meaning. But from God's side the whole finished plan is visible in infinite and beautiful detail.

We do not have the final answer to these agonizing questions. But we do have an idea of where those answers lie. If we begin from this side of the tapestry and try to draw conclusions about God, we will project upon God all the anger and fear that we as humans feel. And we will come up with a distorted view of God and of God's purpose for us.

But faith begins from God's side of the tapestry and works its way around to this. In so doing, it is able to view these events through God's loving eyes, and that transforms everything. It also transforms us, and allows us eventually to transform the world.

Because the attackers viewed the world from the human side of the tapestry, from the point of view of fear, they tried to solve their problems by creating fear in others. History has shown that this approach merely creates a whirlpool of destruction which eventually sucks us all down to death. The redeeming power of an event like this is that is reminds us, painfully, that we must find another way. And that way, of course, is found on the opposite side of the tapestry. It is the way of God, the way of love.

The issue is not between terrorism and freedom. The issue is between fear and love. If the terrorists succeed in filling us with fear, turning us against each other, transforming us into angry militants who are desperate for violent revenge regardless of the cost, they will have won even if we kill them all. Each of us has a choice. The attackers chose fear. We must choose love.

How do we do that in a world such as ours has become? We begin not with the World Trade Center/Pentagon disasters, but in our convictions about God. Is God alive? Is God a loving God? Is God still in control? If we say no to these fundamental questions, then there is no answer to this tragedy. But if we say yes, then we must conclude that these tragedies occurred within God. And that transforms them.

The question then becomes not: Why did God allow this to happen? It becomes: Since God has given us the freedom to do anything we choose, why have we created a world in which there is such injustice and desperation that people choose to do these things? Why does the richest nation on earth squander its riches on itself when half the world is starving? Why has it taken us so long to oppose the terrorism that has plagued other nations for decades? Could it be that it has never before touched us in such a dramatic and personal way? Why don't we see that the pervasive selfishness and secularism in the world is a total denial of our true spiritual nature?

My Unity Church service on the Sunday following the attack left us with this thought: The hijackers and we are one with God. That certainty must be kept in mind if we are to convert this evil into blessing. If we recognize the need to be governed by love, it means that even the pursuit of the guilty parties must be conducted in love, not in the hatred that comes from fear.

Whether we believe that the victims chose their fate before they came to earth as a means of changing the course of the future, or whether we honor their loss by ensuring that it never happens again, we know that this event is intended to raise our consciousness. In the coming days, we must choose between being influenced by fear or by love. Join us in allowing God's love to turn this human crucifixion into a spiritual resurrection.

Copyright: John W. Sloat 2003