The title of this post was colored onto the poster I had made as I walked to the Mecom Fountain in late 2002.  I was early for the antiwar demonstration, and I stood there alone for a time, holding my sign as the cars whizzed past.  Some drivers waved and shouted their approval; the city buses usually honked their percussive horns, which startled me pleasantly.  Others shouted insults, questioned my patriotism, and flipped me the bird; one threw a beer bottle (not the sort of thing one forgets).

After a few minutes, I saw someone crossing to join me at the circle.  He was an older African American gentleman, and he waited for a break in the traffic before shuffling across Main to join me at the circle.  The man introduced himself, we shook hands, and he inquired after the sign, which I held out for him to read.  He smiled an old grizzled smile and began to laugh.  “Man, that’s good,” he said, “Dr. King would like that.”  “Thank you,” I said, “I hope he would.”  As we struck up a conversation, I learned that the man had marched with Dr. King and had come out to oppose the war based on Dr. King’s admonition that the silence of good people represented spiritual death.  We continued to talk, and I learned that the man was a person of Christian faith — together we wondered aloud at Jesus’ instruction to lay down our swords; we questioned our nation’s ability to heed his reinterpretation of religion (“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye’…But I say to you…”); we worried that our small voices would be drowned out by the growing drumbeat for war.  Then we laughed and told a few more stories as we held the sign together.  Before long, others began to arrive at the fountain and we were slowly surrounded by the ramshackle Houston peacenik community carrying signs and passing out candles as darkness fell.

This is just one of dozens of memories I have of the last ten years.  As we approach Sunday’s tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, I find my thoughts drifting away from that one particular day and its unspeakably traumatic images.  Rather, I am sitting with an entire decade.  I can’t help but wonder this week what exactly has happened to us in the past ten years.  Who are we and what are we doing — as people, as a nation, as religious communities?  These are deep questions, I know.  Perhaps they are best answered in story form.  Maybe you could share a story.

With aloha,

J

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