Ten years ago, the United States, and New York City in particular, suffered a horrific attack that robbed nearly 3,000 people of their lives. There was shock, anger, fear and unbearable sorrow. We in Pax Christi Metro New York expressed our condemnation, remorse and renewed commitment to peacemaking in a statement, as well as in prayer and public witness.
Since then, our nation has responded with two wars that have killed more than twice the number of people than died from the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 -- and that number represents only American military casualties. Well over 100,000 Iraqi and Afghan civilians have also died from the violence of war. Tens of thousands of new veterans are permanently injured. Thousands have committed suicide. "Coalition forces" have also suffered devastating losses. More than $1 trillion has been spent. The U.S. is drowning in debt and so uncompromisingly divided that our union appears to be rupturing.
The cries of the peace movement have gone unheeded. The predictions of deepening hostility have come true. In the name of patriotism, we as a nation have failed to confront the difficult question "why" honestly and humbly. We have ignored the fact that we are not alone, that countless others around the globe from every nationality, race, faith and degree of innocence have also been victims of extremist violence. We have allowed our pain to compromise our principles.
But ours is a faith rooted in hope. Our mission as Pax Christi is to live that faith, and so, over the past 10 years, we have worked to promote love instead of hate, forgiveness instead of vengeance, peace instead of war, and understanding instead of fear and suspicion. We have proudly engaged with fellow peacemakers in a decade not only marked by war, but also by an outpouring of international compassion, by acts of extraordinary heroism, and by numerous and varied forms of outreach to people different from ourselves. Christians, Muslims and Jews have joined together, sometimes with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and more, to learn about each other and to stand with each other in the face of bigotry and violence.
While 9/11/01 sparked despicable evil, it also inspired tremendous good fortified by faith. We will continue to draw on that faith. We will continue to work for the transformation of our hearts, minds and deeds. We will continue to spread the Peace of Christ.