Whatever political or psychological purposes the bombers of the World Trade Center may have had, I am most concerned with their direct assault upon our human spirit. Imagine their rage made routine by long planning. Picture their faces as they steeled their hearts against the cries of those in the plane, against the terrible impending fate of the workers in the World Trade Center. They could not hear. They had long since left their true Faith, and fallen under the power of Death. From the perspective of the spirit, the intent of such a heinous act is to place the victims – and survivors – under the power of Death, the same power under which the perpetrators themselves had fallen.
If we in our turn plan on militarism, vengeance, and retaliation, if we steel our spirits against the suffering which such pursuits always cause to the innocent, in short, if we turn to the tools of Death, then whatever hollow triumph we may trumpet, it will have been Death alone which has won. For the terrorists will have succeeded in their intent to conscript us into the legion of Death. They will have accomplished in us an enslavement to the same insatiable god that they themselves had come to worship.
Instead, we can contemplate our losses, and from our deep experience of shared grief reach out to others who have suffered similar horrors – yes sometimes even at our own hands. We can instead defy Death by constructing a kingdom of compassion. We need our respective Faiths then – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, all of them – not only to assure us that the victims have escaped the clutches of Death into some close but other world. We need our Faiths to resist and overcome the false promises, and real dominations, of Death here in this world, here among us who have survived. Then that saving power, which we believe has already protected our lost loved ones, will act to save us who remain. And Life, humbly confident even in the face of the flames of death, will triumph – “on earth as in heaven.”