As September 11, 2001 reaches its 10th anniversary, I would like to propose an alternative: Love Your Enemy. We have all witnessed the actions of a nation focused on hate and revenge. Now it is time to move our hearts and turn our focus to actions based on love, reconciliation, and healing. As Martin Luther King, Jr, said, “It is love that will save our civilization; love even for our enemies.”
Disrespect Leads to Violence
Why should we love our enemies, especially enemies like the perpetrators of 9/11? It’s a valid question. It is fine to be angry, but the choice lies with what to do with that anger. Too often, we see only one choice in the media: hate your enemy and thirst for revenge. Generating fear of an enemy and hate towards that enemy require that you dehumanize that enemy. In fact, scientists have shown the number one predictor for violent action is disrespect. Instead, make a proactive choice to love and respect everyone as a human being. Martin Luther King, Jr, said it best: “I will never let anyone bring me so low as to make me hate him.” The time has come to stand up and honor the dignity of the human being, and stop allowing hate to degrade yourself and others.
I am participating in “Love Your Enemy: A Campaign to Reclaim Human Dignity through Nonviolence,” sponsored by a California-based nonprofit called the Metta Center for Nonviolence, and I invite you to join me. This is an ongoing project, not limited to 9/11, and it is nonpartisan. We believe everyone can benefit from the personal training involved in this campaign. Starting now, begin the five steps towards nonviolence in life: 1) Unplug from the commercial mass media, especially incendiary messages concerning 9/11; 2) Develop a spiritual practice, such as meditation or mindfulness; 3) Learn all you can about nonviolence; 4) Reconnect with people, especially the important people in your life, and restore those relationships; and 5) Take positive action to demonstrate love and compassion throughout your community.
Avoid the Media, Promote Reconciliation
On September 10, as part of our campaign, observe a strict media fast, (and day of silence if you wish) refusing to accept the commercial media’s explanation of 9/11. Stand in solidarity with the victims of 9/11, their families, and the heroes who risked their lives to help others that day. Use this day of mourning and solidarity for growth, healing, and reconciliation. On September 11, continue your media fast and spread the word to help others see the benefits and strength that come from loving your enemy. Organize events to show people in your community there is a way to safety and security without war and punishment. On Sept. 12, share your stories, ideas, hopes, and experiences with us on our nationwide conference call. Continue to support nonviolence and nonviolent action by living the five points and by creating positive action campaigns in your community.
When you chose love over hate, when you choose to offer dignity instead of degradation, you are engaged in the real freedom struggle: the freedom from hate so you are free to love. You can help us create a beloved community. Join the campaign. Go to www.mettacenter.org for more information about the campaign and our mission. Φ
Todd Diehl is an English teacher in Texas volunteering with the Metta Center for Nonviolence.