Fifteen years ago today, in the United States 2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 injured.

nine-elevenIt is tempting, from a distance of fifteen years, to try to find reasons for this deadly attack on US soil. There are so many culprits proposed, so many circumstances suggested for blame.

Whatever the causes, September 11 is a clear demonstration of the painful and dangerous breakdown of human community. The world we inhabit is filled with distrust, anger, resentment, and bitterness. We have long ago left behind the paradise of harmony and goodwill for which every right-thinking person longs in the world community. We are fractured and broken, tormented by the results of our in ability to forge effective ways to live together. We inhabitants of this small island in space inflict pain on our human and nonhuman environment with a violence and destructiveness that is almost unimaginable.

The world is not a steady stable place. It seems human beings find it impossible to forge ways to any kind of lasting peace and harmony.

Most of us have little ability to influence events on the grand international scale. But we can all choose to seek to live more peaceful lives where we are. We can seek to turn back anger with patience, hatred with love, injustice with compassion, resentment with kindness. We do have the power to choose a more life-giving path in our own lives.

While darkness lives in the heart of every human being, we are not bound by that darkness. Our lives do not need to be defined by the pain that is a real part of the human condition. We are free to choose wisdom and light. We can open more deeply to the peace and stability that are our true nature as beings created in the image of God.

But, this is not a solitary journey. As the world community fragments into more fractious splinters, it is incumbent that we seek to form communal expressions of the goodness and love for which, in the deepest part of our lives, we know we were created.

All around the world forces seek to destroy human community. There are people dedicated to tearing the fabric of human relationships. We must strive to embody in healthy ways the human aspiration to life-giving community. We humans were created to live in relationship.

Human community is difficult and painful. But if we fail to build strong and kind communal expressions of human relationship, we abandon the world to death and destruction.

9/11 challenges us to find ways to come together, ways to express the oneness that is our true identity and the nature of all creation. We cannot afford to merely philosophize about world affairs or sit in splendid self-indulgent isolation with our enlightenment clutched firmly in our hearts. We must expand, reach out, embrace the other with love and compassion. We must find ways to form in our small corner of the world communities of openness, respect and service.

Only as more and more communities of gentleness and faithfulness come together simply because of a shared commitment to the transcendent possibility of one united human family will there be any hope of avoiding a future 9/11.