Eleven years ago, I was in the Washington DC area when planes flew into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and a field in Pennsylvania. As did most of you, we watched those terrible and frightening pictures on TV, and lived with the tragic feelings of the following days. We knew people who lost friends and colleagues, and still today, there is no understanding completely the depths of sorrow. What could possibly motivate people to commit such horrors on innocent people? In Billy Budd, Melville writes of “a mystery of iniquity” and indeed it is a mystery.
I led a memorial service recently for the father of a member, and the deceased had written a memoir late in life. He wrote this: “I never knowingly injured any person …” Can we each say that? What is it, in the human condition, that lets so many knowingly injure others, whether it be in the horror of 9/11 or shootings in Tucson or Aurora, CO or at a Sikh Temple in Milwaukee? Or in denying marriage rights to same-sex couples, or withdrawing support for the poor, or treating women as chattel? The mystery of iniquity is all around us; too often others are injured knowingly, sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small and petty ways. Where are we in that mystery?
Something to ponder as we search our own hearts and seek the good, hoping to lessen suffering, and keep the injuries at a minimum.