Legacy of courage and love

First published as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel

One of the hottest sellers in American bookstores these days is "The 9/11 Commission Report." Its gripping story is intensified by the fact that this is no fictional screenplay - the terrorist acts it describes actually happened in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

Important as it is to understand what went so horribly wrong in the events leading up to that day - and to make corrections as quickly as possible - it's also vital to realize that, ultimately, safety doesn't depend entirely on new government regulations or high-tech equipment or armed sky marshals. Safety is actually ensured by the fact that there is a power for good that overwhelms even the most entrenched impulses toward evil.

This power for good was so clearly evident on Sept. 11, when the flight attendants and others on the hijacked planes called relatives and friends on the ground and alerted them about the terrorists on board. And no one can ever forget the incredible courage and resolve shown by the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, whose efforts saved thousands of lives when they prevented their flight from crashing into the terrorists' apparent target in Washington, D.C.

Just as the people on those hijacked flights chose to be fearless in the face of terror, it is important for the rest of us not to let the 9/11 report's dramatic account revive old fears and focus thought on the evils done that day. Instead, all of us can honor the brave actions of the flight attendants, first responders, rescue workers, and others on that day, by focusing on their legacy of courage. We can treasure their examples as signs of God's presence even in the darkest hours.

The kind of selfless love these people gave to the world comes from the power of divine Love, which everyone can rely on for strength, comfort, and healing during perilous times. Practicing unselfish love for all humanity - even our enemies - is not always easy. But loving humanity is essential if wars are ever to cease, fear to be defanged, and hate wiped out. It's also crucial to know that such lofty goals are not impossible to achieve. Jesus showed us that it is possible to love our enemies. His life was a timeless example of the power that love wields.

Spiritually inspired love is never bland or ineffective. In fact, it is an energizing force. It fosters intelligent cooperation among nations, which the 9/11 report says is so desperately needed. And powerful, unwavering love for humanity enables one to transcend fear-based thinking. One effect of God's love is to unite peoples and cultures. And within this oneness, good prevails, because Love brings only good.

In an article titled "Love," Mary Baker Eddy, a 19th-century writer and spiritual thinker, and the Monitor's founder, made this compelling statement about what real love requires from each of us. "I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results," she wrote. "Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 250).

The people who gave their lives to help others on Sept. 11 were laying down all they had for this kind of love. For them, love wasn't an abstraction. Their legacy requires us to honor their memory by finding ways - individually and as a nation - to live and to act upon that same unselfish goodness. We can begin by making the commitment to love even our enemies, no matter how difficult that may seem to be - and to embrace all of humanity in our love.

Wait on the Lord:
be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen
thine heart: wait, I say,
on the Lord.

Psalms 27:14

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