I learned to hate not a particular person, but an idea. A way of thinking. Sept. 11, 2001 is the day I learned to hate organized religions—all of them.
That’s because the night of Sept. 10 was the first time someone I loved revealed his anti-Semitic side to me. He showed me that although he can say words like, “I love you” and “I want to marry you someday,” he also had the ability to say, “All Jews are arrogant.”
I remember I slept in the morning of Sept. 11 because of that fight. I was 19 years old and missed my first class at the local community college. I’d just walked out of the shower, wrapped in towels, when my phone rang. It was my father.
“Are you OK?” he asked me, his voice cracking.
My stomach dropped. How could he know what happened last night? Nervous, I sucked it up and said, “Yea Dad, everything’s fine. Why?”
“Haven’t you seen the news?”
Hair still dripping, I flipped on the T.V. and watched in solidarity with the rest of America, as smoke billowed into the heavens from two magnificent towers. And I knew why my father wept.
My parents are both New Yorkers.
Later they said it was terrorism. They said it was Islamic extremists. But I knew … I knew. It was religion. Divisive. Hateful. Demonic.
Religion was the reason a boy no longer wanted to marry me. And religion was the reason 3,000 people died that fateful day.
Remember to love in honor of those who died
Yes, Sept. 11 is the day I learned to hate. You may ask, “Why share my story today, when so many other bloggers will be doing the same—on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11?”
Truth is, I’ve never written about Sept. 11 until now. It’s crazy to think we have a whole generation of kids growing up who know nothing but a perpetual state of war in this country. They’ll never know what it was like to fly without paranoia, to live without the Patriot Act, to be at peace with most of the world.
So many died on Sept. 11, 2001. And so many more died serving their country in the wars that followed. So many heroes saved lives, and so many lives were ruined.
I’m writing today to say in these past 10 years—since I learned to hate—I’ve learned to love again. I’ve forgiven myself and found new (and better) happiness with someone else. I’ve learned the difference between religion and faith.
I wish and hope our country can do the same.
In honor of every victim of Sept. 11, I want you to remember that love heals. It pushes the world forward, and it inspires. Let’s never forget Sept. 11 by striving to be the country we were before that fateful day. Let’s have faith in each other again, and honor those we lost by opening our hearts.
MY QUESTION TO YOU: What images and/or emotions does this profound day—the 10-year anniversary of 9/11—evoke for you? Looking back, what has been your greatest lesson, whether in life, or in your writing?