Wednesday was the 18th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center by foreign terrorists. It was a terrible day. Almost 3,000 people lost their lives. Many were injured by toxic debris.

Astoundingly, the intervention by a comedian (a comedian!) was necessary to get the federal government to provide long-term medical care for those who, without regard for their own lives, assisted in the rescue and medical treatment of many.

Fortunately we had presidential leadership at that time, who, by his words and presence, helped pull our people together with the families of those killed and injured and our traumatized country.

We have endured a number of acts of foreign and many acts of domestic terrorism. Some of these horrors were perpetrated by those who hate the influence the United States has in world affairs, particularly with regard to countries in the Middle East.

Some of these are directly linked to our foreign enemies. Some perpetrators are motivated by racial hatred, some by the influence of the federal government they believe to be curtailing civil liberties.

Whatever the reason, airplanes, handguns and automatic weapons have been used in these violent acts of terror. Twenty-eight school children were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, eight Christians in Charleston during Bible study. During Bible study. By a young man indoctrinated by hate groups.

By not speaking out against these groups and their terror tactics, the current administration is dividing us to maintain the president’s ego. This is obvious to a candid world. Perhaps some people want the country to be divided in order to keep their social and political power, or to create a country dominated by power rather than empowering the people.

But many others, including people of many faiths, recognize that all human beings are created in the image of God no matter their race, gender, religion or country of origin. At least that is what the Scripture holds to be sacred by Jews and Christians of every time and place. This is a belief held by many others who act with “goodwill to all men and women.”

Maybe there are many who hold Scripture sacred who paradoxically ignore the sacred in each person and the operation of the Spirit of God at work in the world acting to inspire humanity to compassion and hope in the midst of horror and evil.

There seem to be two very different value systems at work in our beloved country: one values justice for all, and the other an unbridled sense of personal freedom to declare themselves above the laws upon which many pledged their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor.”

Certainly right and just action is modeled from the top. It would seem the top and bottom have been exchanged these days. But whatever comes about, God is not mocked and compassion will overcome hatred.

In the meantime, those of goodwill must keep the faith.

Philip G. Emanuel is the priest-in-charge at St. Catherine's Episcopal Church in Florence.

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