Sunday, 11 September 2011

Thoughts on 9/11

The very expression ' 9.11' evokes the most awful scenes of that day ten years ago which was to have such lasting effect on our world.  All over the world prayers have been said and the pain and suffering of those who died on that day and of those who morn the loss of loved ones have been in the forefront of our thoughts today.  And where, people ask me, was 'your God' ten years ago?   My answer to that question is that 'my God' was there in the pain and the suffering.   There is a line in a hymn which goes 'Our God reigns'. Perhaps there should also be a hymn which says  that ' Our God Weeps', 'Our God is in Pain'.  Our God - in Jesus Christ - does not stand outside the created world.  When the Word became Flesh, God entered fully  into our pain and agony.  He entered into our history and our evolution.  But what relevance is looking at 9.11 through the perspective of the Sacred Heart as ' God of Evolution?  This is an immensely hard question to answer in  brief blog, but I can only give my own reflections on the events of that day .

Teilhard was really amongst the first to recognise that  the world was undergoing a process of what we now term 'globalization'.  Due to a world becoming ever more compressed and inter-connected humanity was - he argued - going through a new phase in its evolution.  But evolution is not a straight line -  it moves by  what he called 'groping' or tâtonnement; a process of trial and error.   So much human pain and suffering is the result of that process wherein human being grope around trying to find their  way forward.  We try to make sense of our complex world by groping around, and through these experiments and trials human beings learn.  But despite all our sense of certainty, we are still groping around.  When human beings  are absolutely convinced  that they are right and that they know what has to be done,  we can do truly terrible things.    The implications of tâtonnement, however, is that small steps are rather more sensible than big ones and that certainty is a very dangerous thing indeed.  The people who conceived and executed what happened ten years ago  were certain, indeed  they were deadly certain that they were right and that they were doing what was right in God's eyes.  In large part what they were doing was making a statement about globalization and how it threatened their values and their way of life.    I think that in so many ways 9.11 was  an expression of a growing fear and hatred of globalization.   It was a response to the compression which the planet in now undergoing.  In this respect, 9.11 marks an important stage in human evolution : it was an event which brought out the very best in humanity and an event which brought out the very worst in humanity.   Faith in the future requires us as human beings to  develop the capacity to take such tragedies and learn from them.   The world changed ten years ago and what we have to do in trust in how this event will unfold and facilitate better understanding, more dialogue and a 'sense of the earth ' and  our common shared humanity.  In short, we have to trust in evolution.  Faith in the future demands of us a belief that hate can never triumph over love.  It requires that we believe that 9.11 marks a stage in a growing convergence  between  races and civilizations and that it  marks a stage towards the  'planetization' of humanity.  If we believe that the cosmos  has a purpose and a direction and that purpose and direction is love, then our sadness and grief for the loss of so many human beings must be harnessed to build a better world out of the ruins of what happened a decade ago.   That is the challenge of 9.11: to harness the love that glows from those  events and not fuel the hate that burnt and destroyed.  A faith in a God who is the very centre and motor of evolution leads me to believe that 9.11 will be an event which will be seen in time as a tragedy which served to unite and bring humanity together  rather than divide and destroy our sense of the earth and our sense of our belonging to one human family. And that is my prayer today.

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