From John Guzlowski, his poem Sept 13, 2001 found in his post: 9/11 — Ten Years Later
I’ve written a number of poems about 9/11 over the years. The first one was written a couple days of 9/11. That poem talked about how I wanted an end to 9/11. It didn’t happen then, and it hasn’t happened since…
Ted Monica, a fellow former seminarian at Wadhams Hall, and an Episcopal priest, offers his music: Sisters and Brothers.
To the Children of Emma Lazarus – a poem for 9/11 by Konrad Tademar
From Howard Community College on Danuta Hinc’s book To Kill the Other: A question of killing: Howard County author searches for an answer
Five days. That’s all it took after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, for Danuta Hinc to realize that she needed to write a book about how such a thing could happen.
“I realized that I needed to know what leads people to make such extreme choices,” says Hinc, who teaches professional writing at the University of Maryland College Park. “And the next question I asked was: Am I capable of killing someone?”
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Hinc stood in the living room of her Ellicott City townhouse, riveted to the TV screen, unable to sit down, unable to comprehend what she was witnessing.
“Like everyone else, I thought it was an accident. When the second plane hit, I realized to my horror that it was not,” says Hinc, who is in her early 40s and grew up in Poland under Communist oppression.
“My first thought was ‘They must be so organized,’ ” she remembers. Then she realized she didn’t know a thing about them.
“I hated them with all my heart. But I didn’t like that I hated them,” she says.
What eventually came of that rush of tangled emotions and questions, some 10 years later, is Hinc’s book, “To Kill the Other.” It’s a fictional story of a boy who grows up to become a terrorist. It’s not about al-Qaeda; it’s not about ideology. It’s about the choices human beings make.
She spent three and a half years researching and writing the story, which she first wrote in Polish. Then she spent another two-and-a-half years translating it into English. At the time, she was an adjunct professor of English and religion at Howard Community College.
“To Kill the Other” follows the journey of Taher, a sensitive Egyptian boy, from the time he was 7 to his presence as a terrorist on the first plane to hit the World Trade Center…
Taher examined his reflection in the airplane's lavatory mirror long shadows cast down in sharp strokes and suddenly felt exhausted...It's okay, he thought, seeing the reflection of his lips move. He closed his eyes, faced the ceiling, and took a deep breath. It's okay, he whispered. It's okay.
How does a sensitive, scholarly boy from an affluent Egyptian family become a hijacker? Set in the two decades leading up to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, To Kill the Other tells the story of Taher and his spiritual transformation from an innocent young boy into a ruthless, disillusioned conformist. Exploring the circumstances and choices that shaped him, To Kill the Other builds toward an unimaginable act of mass terror in which Taher finally confronts who and what he has become.
'Very few people have written about the attack of 9/11 in a perspective of hijackers. Hinc has written a lucid, utterly gripping speculation expending our understanding of who the hijackers were and who motivated them. She provides an important new perspective to this event which has transformed our lives.'
Rabbi Martin Siegel, author of Amen: The Diary of Rabbi Martin Siegel.
'Hinc tells her story masterfully by weaving multiple perspectives, revealing the core of human sorrow and the transcendent quality of compassion.'
Chukwudi Okpala, author of The Uncircumcised
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Mark Skinner reflects for More Magazine: 9/11 Changed My Life
“I spent so many years doing what I ‘should’ do,” says Mary Skinner, who went from financial exec to award-winning filmmaker.
For 20 years, Mary Skinner climbed the corporate ladder in financial communications, at one point working on the 106th floor of Two World Trade Center, before moving to San Francisco to be close to her family. In the months leading up to 9/11, her life was in limbo. Living with her parents, she wrestled with an internal conflict about her professional future. “I spent so many years doing what I ‘should’ do,” she says. She wanted to return to New York, and even flew there that summer for an interview with a financial services start-up. When the ‘no-thanks’ letter arrived, her disappointment was sharp.
But as the catastrophe unfolded, Skinner’s hesitation disappeared. “I knew friends were caught on certain floors and didn’t make it,” she says. “I felt: I need to be there right now. I’ve got to go back. I had devoted my talent, heart and brain cells to helping somebody make a little more money on currency arbitrage. In the face of what was going on in the world, I felt like, that’s a sin.”
Two months later, Skinner boarded a plane for New York – without a job or a place to live, and for the first time in her professional life, without a plan.
She found temp office work, reconnected with old friends and took writing classes. She enrolled in a documentary filmmaking class at the New School, wanting to make a film about her Polish-born, Catholic mother, Klotylda, who was orphaned and imprisoned during World War II and cared for by strangers afterwards. Klotylda wouldn’t agree to be her subject. Haunted by her mother’s experiences, Skinner continued with her research, uncovering more stories of children saved by heroic strangers…
From Jim Wallis at Sojourners: 10 Years After 9/11: The Good and the Bad
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was at home in Washington, D.C. getting ready to go to Sojourners’ office. I was upstairs listening to the news on NPR when I heard the first confusing report of a plane crashing into the south tower of the World Trade Center. I immediately called downstairs to Joy and asked her to turn on the television to see what was going on. Moments later, as we ate breakfast together with our three-year-old son Luke, we watched the second plane strike the north tower. I still remember my first response to Joy, “This is going to be bad, very bad,” I said.
Of course, I meant more than just the damage to the Twin Towers and the lives lost, which became far greater than any of us imagined at first. Rather, my first and deepest concern was what something like this could do to our our nation’s soul. I was afraid of how America would respond to a terrorist attack of this scope.
But as the Towers collapsed, and the suffering of this horrible event became increasingly clear in the hours and days that followed, other parts of the American soul revealed themselves — the heroic responses of the first responders, and a city and nation of people taking care of each other. As ordinary citizens gave their lives for strangers, they became our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. In the days that followed the 9/11 attacks, the stories of pain, loss, and self-sacrifice brought Joy and me to tears several times. The suffering of many led to the service of many more.
For a moment, the world’s last remaining superpower was vulnerable, and we all felt it. In Washington, people fled from downtown D.C., walking and running right past our house, and gathered to pray at places such as Sojourners’ office. Joy helped Luke set up a little water station, as people frantically rushed by our house.
In our sudden sense of vulnerability we were now, and perhaps for the first time, like most of the world, where vulnerability is an accepted part of being human. And in those first days following 9/11, America, not the terrorists, had the high ground. The world did not identify with those who cruelly and murderously decided to take innocent lives in response to their grievances — both real and imagined. Instead, the world identified with a suffering America — even the front cover of the French newspaper Le Monde ran the headline, “We are all Americans now.”
But it was Washington’s response that I was most worried about. Within a short period of time, the official reaction to terrorism would simply be defined as war — a decade of it — resulting in many more innocent casualties than on September 11, 2001. In response to America’s own suffering, many others in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world would now suffer — all in the name of our war on terrorism. The opportunity for deeper understanding, reflection, and redirection would elude us as we sought to erase our vulnerability with the need to demonstrate our superior force and power. This was done quite easily in the early days of both our new wars. But now, we see that the longest series of wars in American history has failed to resolve or reverse the causes of the violence that struck us, or to make us safer. They just made it all worse.
The world expected and would have supported a focused and sustained effort to pursue and bring this small band of criminals to justice. But these last 10 years of manipulated and corrupted intelligence, endless war, practices and policies of torture, secret armies of assassination, global violations of human rights, indiscriminate violence with countless civilian casualties, and trillions of dollars wasted caused America to lose the high ground long ago. The arrogance of American power was our only response to the both the brutality and complexity of terrorism. Perhaps, this arrogance is most recently and brazenly exhibited in former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s new book tour, where he boasts of having absolutely no regrets for any of the momentous decisions he took part in. These are decisions which have made the world an even more divided, polarized, dehumanized, and dangerous place — 10 years after September 11, 2001.
But, fortunately, the official and failed response of Washington to the terrible tragedy of 9/11 has not been the only reponse. A new generation of Christians has asked how Jesus would respond to these same events. Many of them would agree with what Methodist Bishop Will Willimon recently said in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today: “American Christians may look back upon our response to 9/11 as our greatest Christological defeat … when our people felt vulnerable, they reached for the flag instead of the cross.” As many of those who have grown up in the decade since 9/11 confront the conflicts of their world, they are reaching for different things than their government. They are forging alternative responses to issues of injustice and violence, and rejecting the terrorism and war sequence of Washington’s twisted and failed moral logic.
And despite the hateful diatribes of fundamentalist leaders in all our religious traditions, other pastors have decided to love their neighbors, and even their enemies in response to Jesus’ call. Their stories are slowly being told, from American neighborhoods where Muslims have moved in, to conflict areas around the world where faith is being used for bridge building and healing, instead of more revenge killings. Christian leaders are sharing meals, fasting, and prayer with Muslim leaders. Some have defended each other’s congregations and homes in the face of heated threats and rhetoric. While differences between faith traditions are not being glossed over, the nature of a loving and reconciling God is being courageously affirmed across religious lines. In all of this, we are saying that government responses need not define our own…