I remember watching the news early on TV. My father called from Italy. He knew nothing about it. I explained what had happened, and he said, "You make it sound as if it's the end of the world." He called me an hour later and said, "It IS the end of the world!"
Well, it was not, really, but it reminds me of the sack of Rome in 410, the first time Rome was ever invaded in almost eight hundred years. It had been called the Immortal City. I can imagine the same shock and fear. We know that many blamed the "new" Christian religion. Too weak of a God, they said. That's why Augustine wrote the City of God, a 22-book reply!
In some ways, however, it was different then. The Visigoths were not motivated by religious beliefs. They were not trying to make a statement. The 9/11 hijackers did.
Over the months that followed, I was saddened by the reaction of many Americans, who chose to respond with hate to hate, with violence to violence, with prejudice to prejudice.
I worked for Arab-American Business Magazine for a while after that, and was appalled to find out how many Arabs were mistreated in this country as a result of 9/11. Sad, sad stories. I also wrote two articles for a Christian paper, on the same subject, hoping to present a different view. In the process, I spoke to some wonderful people and was enriched.
My conclusion, eight years later, is quite simple: we are all sinners, Arabs, Americans, Italians, or whatever. It's only by God's grace that I didn't hijack one of those planes or torture some Iraqi prisoners, as appalling as the thought seems to me.