On Walking for Peace on 9/11 ~ Rev. Evan Young

These are the words with which UCM Campus Minister, Rev. Evan Young, started the 9/11 Interfaith Peace Walk on and around the campus of Ohio University.

Eleven years ago terrorists commandeered four commercial airliners and used them to perpetrate attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the days, weeks, months, and years since that event, we have often been encouraged to think of and to try to understand those events through the lens of religious difference.

The events of September 11, 2001 were by no means the first acts of violence to be perceived and explained in terms of religion; neither have they been the last. Since that day, especially, it has been dangerous to look “different” here–turban-wearing Sikhs have been attacked by people afraid of Muslims; Arabic-looking people have been harassed and detained, their rights and freedoms abridged, because they seemed to resemble some class to which the attackers were thought to belong. Just this summer we heard with shock and dismay about the shootings at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; closer to home, we heard about the South Bloomingville Christian Church, whose building was destroyed by arson. The idea of people responding to religious difference by committing violence against the persons and property of the different has, I fear, become the dominant narrative in the public discourse about religion.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. As a community, we have imagined together another story–a story of people living out their faith, enacting their principles, embodying what they value in each other and in the great “us” to which we all belong by rising together, lifting their hands, raising their voices, and moving their feet in the service of another vision. We envision something better together. We see an Ohio University, an Athens, indeed a worldwide human community in which the great range of our ways of believing, worshiping, and engaging with others is seen not as a threat to be feared or a problem to be solved, but as a precious resource to be treasured and shared and an abundance of gifts to be celebrated.

So I hope you put on your praying shoes. Because today we’re going to take that vision throughout Athens, from door to door on campus and among the houses of worship closest to campus. We’re going to be better together by walking together, by expressing together our hope for peace and our commitment to doing the work of peace in our town and in our world. We know we don’t have to think alike, or believe alike, or worship alike to love alike–and so we’ll walk. And I believe that along our route, today and in the days to come, we’ll find others who will join us because they share our vision of an earth made fair, and all her people one.

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