We’ll Never Forget. But Have We Learned?

All of us have promised that we won’t forget. But have we learned?

Have we learned that unity among people is fleeting and doesn’t just happen?That it must be sustained intentionally by leaders and each one of us? That divisive demagoguery, both in office and over the air waves, weakens the ties that bind us?

Have we learned that our lives are more meaningful when we commit time and treasure to helping each other rather than just consuming stuff?

Muslims with Muslim Posters

Have we learned to separate Muslims from murderers? That persecuting Muslims is not only un-American, but anti-Christian? That religious freedom for one faith community must extend equally to all, lest it become ineffectual for all?

Have we learned that our safety is much more threatened by white, American-born young men with weapons of mass murder than by brown, foreign-born ones?

Have we learned that though surveillance is necessary to our security, privacy is necessary to our American identity?

Soft Power, Hard Power

Have we learned that force must only be a last resort? That without wise leadership and planning, we cause more destruction than we prevent?

Have we learned that all our daughters and sons who serve in combat and survive do bear the wounds of war, even if unseen?

Have we learned that the security of our people is advanced much more efficiently and effectively by seeking the good of all peoples and not just our own?


Have we learned that each person in our land deserves empathy and compassion, regardless of, well, anything, and that criticism ought only to proceed in humility not self-righteousness?

Have we learned that we Americans have much more in common than we don’t?

Let us never forget. But let us be sure that we also learn.

Obamas and Bushes at WTC
The Obamas and the Bushes at the opening of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Sept. 11, 2011. (Photo: ObamaWhiteHouse.archives.gov)