Ten years ago, on September 11, 2001, I was supposed to have breakfast on the top of the World Trade Tower in New York City, but a few days before it was changed to another restaurant. After the attacks, I walked downtown to volunteer my services, and ended up becoming a Red Cross coordinator of chaplains at the Family Assistance Center. In the months that followed, I counseled some 1,500 grieving relatives as well as rescue workers at Ground Zero. I also spoke out publicly against the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, and later Iraq, to say that violent retaliation and further terrorism are not the way to peace, justice, reconciliation, or the God of peace.
Ten years later, I grieve for the hundreds of thousands of people our government has killed since 9/11 — especially the innocent children of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, victims of our so-called "war on terrorism." We now know that war cannot stop terrorism because war is terrorism. Creative nonviolence is the only way to stop global violence and sow the seeds of peace, justice and reconciliation.
I will spend this tenth anniversary in quiet prayer, grief and fasting, to repent of the mortal sin of war, and deepen my own journey of nonviolence. The spiritual life is a journey to peace, and that means rooting out the violence within us as we join the global grassroots movement of nonviolence to end war, poverty and nuclear weapons and create a new culture of peace. I hope this day of prayer for peace will deepen the spiritual roots of peace within me, and strengthen me for the work of peace ahead. Let us pray.— John Dear