The Legacy of 9/11: A Deeper Faith, Hope and Love for Others

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Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services, sent this message to his CRS colleagues and friends of the Agency around the world to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For some, he says, the trauma of 9/11 elicited a response of increased security and rising suspicion. However, he concludes, we are convinced this tragedy encourages us not to withdraw from the world but, to reach out in greater generosity to others.

Ken Hackett, CRS President

Then, as now, we believe that solidarity will transform the world.

On that Tuesday morning 10 years ago when the jetliners crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center, we at CRS were as horrified and mystified as anyone. Why did this happen? Who was behind it? As the eyes of the world watched the horrific scenes, we, like so many others, began to gather together, first in small groups, then with others. To find out whether our loved ones and colleagues were safe. To pray. To grieve. To try to understand. To ponder what we needed to do. There was a strong sense of unity that brought us together in the face of such a tragedy.

The attacks came less than a year after 250 of our staff and partners from around the world had gathered together in the World Summit. Our guiding vision came from this event: Solidarity Will Transform the World. Those are good, powerful words. Those very words were guiding a planning team meeting on September 11 in Baltimore to turn them from a vision into a strategy and concrete actions. The focus of this effort was how CRS could be in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable overseas.

Yet, in the days and weeks that followed what touched us very deeply were the tremendous expressions of solidarity from around the world that were directed towards us as an organization, as a people, as individuals. The messages, letters and prayers led us to experience in very fundamental and personal ways what it means to be part of one human family. This experience— this lesson—is one that still resonates a decade later in our work with partners around the world, from Haiti to Afghanistan, Sudan to the Holy Land.

The attacks of 9/11 caused many in this country to understand how tied-in we are with the rest of the world. At the time, many remarked that for the first time the oceans around the continental United States had failed to protect its citizens from attack. Beyond that, there was a realization that decisions made tens of thousands of miles away can have consequences. Such decisions can not only have the capability to bring down towering skyscrapers, killing thousands. They can also affect how we live our lives. They can strengthen or weaken the very fabric of our society.

For some, 9/11 elicited one primary response: the need to increase our security. It meant building walls to keep that world away. It meant raising suspicions about all that was foreign and unknown. And it meant violence against those deemed enemies.

But for us, we are convinced that our response should take us in a very different direction. It encourages us not to withdraw from the world but to reach out in greater generosity to others to embrace our shared hopes and to work for a better tomorrow. The direction does not ignore the real security concerns that exist. Nor does it call us to ignore the safety of our families and communities. But it is to say that fear of another calamity will not rule our lives nor be the lens through which we value relationships with others. Ten years ago, 9/11 did not weaken our commitment to mission. Today, as then, it strengthens our resolve, to deepen our faith, our hope and love for others.

Then, as now, we believe that solidarity will transform the world.

Please join me in prayer to remember those who have lost their lives or loved ones, and to celebrate the many acts of courage that have come from the tragedy.

Ken Hackett
President, Catholic Relief Services

For more information, visit the CRS Newswire

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. For more information, please visit http://www.crs.org or http://www.crsespanol.org.

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