There are victims of September 11 no one talks about, no one has held a service for, few have signed a card for. Undoubtedly, they sit sick, humiliated and horrified by the tragedy and approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 with grief, anger and sadness. Yet, you won’t hear about them in the news or on the radio. They won’t be mentioned in any memorial.
Who am I referring to?
The families of the hijackers.
From what I can glean on the internet, almost all of the September 11 hijackers came from run-of-the-mill Middle Eastern families who weren’t especially religious or political. They are plain folk, ordinary sorts who, somehow, have to come to terms with what their loved ones did* and find ways to live in the aftermath. Somehow they have to reconcile the one who shared their table and laughed at their jokes with the one who flew a plane full of people into a tower full of people.
Has a family member ever scandalized or humiliated your family? Has a felony ever sat on your back step or an infidelity ever climbed into your bed? Has your name ever been run through the rumor mill? Have you ever felt a neighbor’s scorn or pity because of what Uncle Joe did? If not, well, congratulations your family may have super genes or uncanny spiritual protection or, just maybe, it is better than most at hiding its dark side. If so, though, I’m with you, I’ve been there. Even though we wish we hadn’t been “slugged” by our loved one, it does put us in a position to relate, in a small way, to the struggles of the mother, father, son or daughter of a death-dealing terrorist. We know that even if forgiveness is granted, some things don’t easily slip away: confusion, anger and grief ebb and flow for years, like a great tide.
I wonder, do we dare include the hijackers’ families in our inner and outer spaces tomorrow? Can our hearts hold those whose loved ones killed our loved ones? Whose sons and husbands brutalized our mothers and children? Are we that forgiving, that compassionate? Ten years later, can we do it?
I don’t know…
Maybe if we try…
Light a candle, say a prayer…dear Jesus, please help me, I’m going to try…
* For instance: the father of two hijackers, Muhammad Ali al-Shehri, is reported to have said, “If that turns out to be the truth, then I’ll never, never accept it from them. I’ll never forgive them for that.” (Wikipedia: Wail al-Shehri)