Many of us vividly remember where we were 20 years ago on tomorrow's date: September 11, 2001. I was in my college apartment with a friend visiting from Germany. We watched in horror as the tragedy unfolded and he asked questions I could not answer. In the weeks, months and years to come, I continued to learn details and stories about the courage and sacrifice of that terrible day. Just before the Covid-19 pandemic, I was in NYC with another German friend, and we visited the memorial. It stands as a striking, haunting, beautiful way to honor the heroes and victims, and to forever etch something important into our collective memory.
I picked up a painting and a coffee mug on that trip that said "Love is stronger than hate." It's a phrase I learned in the United Methodist Communion liturgy from my international church in Munich: Life is stronger than death, and love is stronger than hate. You'll often hear me repeating it, because we all need a reminder. With so much division, anger, violence and "othering" in our society these days, we cannot succumb to our lowest base instincts. It also reminds me of an inscription at the Dachau concentration camp just outside of Munich: Nie wieder (never again). If we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it.