9 years ago today many Americans lost their lives. Those Americans were Black, White, Asian, Latino…Those Americans were gay, straight, trans, bisexual…Those Americans were Muslims, Jews, Christians, Athiests…Those Americans were women, men, children…They were mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, fathers brothers, sons, uncles…They were grand parents. Most importantly I’m remembering that they were people with families they left behind before their time.
It’s hard for religious people to understand why G-d let’s tragedies happen. The thing I always have to remember is that we were given free will and that those people who carry out ugly and hateful things will be judged by G-d. It’s not our place as humans to judge one another. It’s not for us to say who is right and who is wrong. It’s not our place to place blame on one group for the actions of individuals.
Hillel famously said to a potential convert who wished to learn Torah, “That which is hateful to you do not do to others. The rest is commentary, now go study.” Hillel wasn’t a prophet and he isn’t in the Torah, he was just a man with great wisdom and insight. Born before Jesus, it’s clear that Jesus, who was of course a Jewish rabbi, would use Hillel’s words for his famous line, “Do unto others and you would have them do unto you.” They are the same message, yes, but the words used by Hillel and Jesus are different. I grew up learning Jesus’ words but Hillel’s have the most impact.
“That which is hateful to you” carries so much weight because we can think of things that are hateful. Racism, Sexism, Discrimination, Bombs, Ugly words, Shoah, Slavery…those are the most hateful of hatred. So you think of things that are hateful, things you’ve possibly experienced and you remember not to do them to another person. For me, remembering the hatred I’ve felt being a gay black woman helps me put into perspective hateful thoughts or words I want to utter in anger.
Nine years ago today a few individuals acted out of hatred and today protests in the streets of New York over the Islamic Center do not honor those who lost their life. It does not honor the families who are still mourning, it doesn’t bring back the dead. If anything, it makes the message of hatred valid and the message of love and hope invalid.
Today I’m remembering so I do not forget.