Faith is our foundation of hope

Posted: Sep 17, 2001 12:00 AM
In the coming weeks and years, the U.S. government will take care of revenge. Today, President Bush took care to encourage faith by issuing a national day of prayer and remembrance in honor of the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Indeed, it is a necessary step for the nation to pause amidst such tragedy, and to find some solace. But how do we define faith during times of senseless tragedy? We might begin with the images of countless rescue workers, wrung out from their efforts, yet still tunneling through the rubble. Or perhaps, we should start with the nobleness of the firemen and police officers who rushed into the twin towers even as they teetered and buckled. As Roman scholar Cicero once observed, "A man of courage is also full of faith." What I think Cicero meant was that this unseen quality of faith makes us what we are; therefore faith is always at the heart of self-sacrifice. As we witnessed on Tuesday, Men will kill for faith. But they will also die for faith, as exemplified by rescue workers who rushed into imminent danger. This later example is faith turned not to creed, but to passion for human interconnectedness. This is the unseen quality that animates our lives with meaning and binds us together as a society. This faith is also what has bound America to extend democracy and human rights throughout the world. This faith, more so than any economic or military structure, was the target of the terrorist attacks. By destroying the most visible symbols of western civilization, the terrorists hoped to erode our faith in our way of life, our God and in the sanctity of human interconnectedness. A note found in possession of El Sayyid Nosair, convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, proves instructive: "We have to thoroughly demoralize the enemies of God .... by means of destroying and blowing up the towers that constitute the pillars of their civilization, such as ... the high buildings of which they are so proud." Many of this country's younger generation have never felt an imminent threat to their way of life. They believed the United States to be complete and secure as the world's lone superpower. Now, that decadence has been shattered. But our faith must remain as our structure of hope and resiliency. Later this evening, I will join my fellow citizens in a candlelight vigil, and I will pray to God for our country, and for the victims of these horrendous attacks. I will be joined by thousands of people across the country that will do the same. The very quality of our faith will not be seen. But it is real enough to nourish us and to raise us even in such desperate times. Faith - in God, country and the sanctity of human life - is the foundation. It is faith that shall give us Godspeed in the journey that lies ahead.