A choice of 9/11s
by Rajni Bakshi
Whatever else may be beyond our control, we are all free to choose which 9/11 moves us most deeply.
It may well be the oddest date in history.
However much they dominate our present, the human missiles of 2001 don’t have a unique claim on 9/11.
It was on September 11, 1906, that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi first articulated the concept of ‘satyagraha’, non-violent resistance, at a public meeting in South Africa. His rigorous application of this philosophy over the next 40 years earned Gandhi the title of Mahatma – great soul. It also gave the modern world a powerful new political tool for dealing with conflict and hurt.
It was on September 11, 1893 that an Indian monk, Swami Vivekananda, was overwhelmed by a three minute standing ovation at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Reverberations of his appeal for universal brotherhood persist today beside the buzz of protest and counter-protest over Park51.
It was on September 11, 1609 that Henry Hudson became the first European to set foot on an island which natives called ‘Menatay’ – our present day Manhattan. Hudson’s landing, somewhere in the vicinity of today’s Ground Zero, was a precursor to European settlements and mass death of native populations.
A collage of all four 9/11s can potentially serve as a map quest – showing us different pathways to resolving the tussle between co-existence and conflict, faith and reason.
Reflecting on this combination of stories is one possible way of picking our way through the tangled web of complications triggered by the plans for a mosque at 51 Park Place in Lower Manhattan.
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