Some Thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

All of us who are old enough have our memories of 9/11.  Part of mine is that on 9/10 I boarded flight 93 from Boston to San Francisco that one day later would be the same flight chosen by the Bin Laden gang to fly into the Washington capitol but, thanks to heroic revolt in the cabin the last thirty minutes, crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.  

View of the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. Photo by Lerone Pieters on Unsplash.

I also recall holding class at the University of Creation Spirituality the morning of the events and a visiting indigenous elder told us that in her tradition, when something as traumatic as that happens, it is important to acknowledge it but it is just as important not to dwell incessantly on it.  She warned that American television’s constant running of the reel of the crashes into the towers was not good for the soul.

There is much in the American response—both from the government under Bush/Cheney and the media—that was ill advised and not good for the soul.  And arrogance, the capital sin we are meditating on these days, lies at the heart of it all.  

One top Bush advisor, who did not want his name used but is suspected to be Karl Rove, pronounced thus about why America invaded Iraq contrary to UN pleas: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.  We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”*

Which means to study the non-reasons for invading Iraq and the extended years in Afghanistan.  

Twenty years later, the carnage of approximately 800,000 persons dead in the Middle East and about 6000 Americans dead including Twin Tower victims and soldiers on the battlefield and perhaps 24 million people displaced in the Middle East, we taste some of the bittersweetness of American arrogance in response to extremist religious arrogance.

*Cited in

To see the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: 9/11 Memorial in New York, NY. Photo by Iago Godoy on Unsplash.

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. xx-xxiii, xlii, 198-206. 225, 307.

Queries for Contemplation

What are your memories of 9/11 and what do you think it all meant in the twenty years since?  Have we learned anything about “arrogance” in the process—how to tame it and prevent it before evil things happen?

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7 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11”

  1. Avatar

    This resonates with me. Today, I have no desire to relive 9/11 over and over again. It hurts my soul. I do remember it. What I remember mostly are the comments from a young teen who other social workers names the child from hell. She said to me that I seemed very quiet. Then she said that I could talk to her as I always listened to her. I also remember Father Judge.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Anne, I am glad that the meditation for today resonates with you, but having said that, you say you have no desire to relive it over and over again. I agree with you–who wants to dwell on such negative things, BUT as the philosopher, George Santayana once said, “Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it.”

  2. Avatar

    It grieves me that all the wrong lessons were learned from the tragedies of 9/11 by government and other institutions. The increased arrogance and violence toward “others” dishonor the memory of those who died, especially the first responders and the brave souls who brought down the third plane–in my opinion.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, Thank you for sharing your grief with us over the tragedies of 9/11. But I feel, rather than focus on the “increased arrogance and violence toward ‘others,’ which keeps us on the Via Negativa, we must focus on moving on to the Via Trasformativa where we work towards not only self-transformation, but the transformation of society through acts of compassion and justice-making.

  3. Avatar

    The war in Afghanistan, if it should have started at all, should have ended in 2011 when Bin Laden was killed. The first Gulf war was justified to stop Saddam Hussein from seizing Kuwait’s oil fields. Our invasion of Iraq had no justification.

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