“To harbor no envy, no anger, no resentment against an offender is still not to have charity for him. It is possible, without any charity, to avoid rendering evil for evil. But to render, spontaneously, good for evil – such belongs to a perfect spiritual love.” – St. Maximus the Confessor
Today, our nation continues to return only more evil for the evil wrought unto us: we are still in Afghanistan even though we have no clear mission there, Guantanamo Bay is still open, we impose sanctions that serve only to strengthen the very national regimes we oppose while weakening private industry and uniting the people against us, we use lethal drone strikes indiscriminately to kill and terrorize our enemies, we avoid the guilt of killing civilians by defining any military age male killed by a drone strike as a combatant unless categorically proven otherwise postmortem or by making unsubstantiated claims refuted by our own military intelligence that Iranian scientists are making nuclear bombs to kill us, with overwhelming bipartisan support our congress granted the executive branch the power to indefinitely detain anyone, including American citizens, without trial based on nothing more than “suspicion,” and our president unilaterally decides who we kill and who gets to live.
If are to truly honor the victims of 9/11 then we can do so by eliminating the draconian foreign policies that caused that tragedy in the first place. We can start by bringing our troops home out of the Middle East and by establishing policies that respect human dignity and ensure due process to everyone. Revenge and hate does not honor their memories even when we phrase it nicely by saying we want to “bring democracy to the rest of the world” and that we will “not apologize for who we are and what we stand for.” Charity and forgiveness, however, do honor their memories and perhaps the honorable thing to do is indeed to apologize for what we have stood for when we stand here with blood on our hands. Because many of our actions over the last couple of decades don’t stand for “liberty and justice for all” in the least. Continuing to stubbornly refuse to apologize for the wrongs we have committed and to refuse to change undermines the good that we have also done. We do violence to the ideals of liberty and justice when we shout them at the top of our lungs and then blatantly contradict them with our actions, and we also do violence to the memories of everyone who lost their lives in this bitter war against terror.
For ourselves, for our fellow man around the world and for the loved ones we have lost it is imperative that we terminate once and for all our vengeful tactics of rendering evil for evil and instead start rendering some good in the world.