It is an honor to be here before the council by invitation of the Cambridge Peace Commission on this 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It would be fitting to ask for a moment of silence for my brother, Donald Greene, killed aboard United Flight 93, and for the others who were killed or injured on that terrible day – however, silence is not what I will ask of this council. I am privileged and comforted to live in a city which has used it’s voice with strength and eloquence to speak out to our community and reach out to the world by doing all it can as a model municipality dedicated to identifying and eliminating root causes of violence and rejecting war and violence while opting for more effective, nonviolent models to proactively prevent and resolve conflict. A city which promotes lasting peace based on truth, justice, and the recognition and protection of the humanity of all peoples.
While not present in this room, I am joined today with 9/11 families from across the country and as well by individuals from across the world who are speaking out on this day. To commemorate this 5th anniversary of 9/11 we convened this past week and have formed a network uniting our efforts in turning our grief into action to break the cycles of violence.
Joining those of us 9/11 families who suffered from terrorism are victims of nuclear bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; children in Europe whose parents were killed by organized crime, Palestinian and Israeli mothers joined together out of a common grief at losing their children in conflict, Afghani women awaiting the implementation of human rights and freedom from gender-based violence, victims of genocide in Rwanda in Sudan who feel the world turned a blind eye as millions have died. Then there are those who noted the violence within our own communities and country – a 9/11 family member who came to realize that his partner, a black physician who watched relatives lynched as a child and as an adult sustained permanent injuries after being beaten severely by police even after the case of a mistaken identity was established, was also a victim of terror. Not present were Iraqi teachers who could not engage in dialogue with us because they could not obtain visas to enter our country.
War and terror; domestic hate based on race, gender and homophobia; economic crimes out of extreme poverty and human greed. The forms of extreme violence and their sources in our collective experience are vast and wide-ranging and encompass extremes of violence inflicted by individuals, organized factions, and nations. The losses we experience as those directly affected are great – loved ones killed and for many our own severe injuries and degradation. We also recognize that the net of those affected branches much farther so that the indirect losses have broad social, economic, and political impact and undermine the security and hopes for the future of our community and all communities. The Hibakusha remind us that we all live in the shadow of the greatest weapons of mass destruction brought of a nuclear age with a hairpin trigger.
Despite this pain and suffering and magnitude of loss, we came together with great hope. We stand together in our diversity– even with those from areas with whom we are in conflict with – who have been labeled our enemies – cherishing our joint humanity. We have joined with love and laughter, song and joint commitment towards a vision of a world where resources are devoted to assisting one another rather than towards our mutual destruction. We do not see our vision of nonviolence as overly idealistic. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. warned, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. … Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction….” We see evidence that proactively addressing root causes of violence, the building of human bridges, and effective dialogue and conflict resolution as the only viable and effective paths available.
I welcome you to join us. We need your help! We need the experience and resources of the Cambridge city council and of the Cambridge community. I hope we will work together in the long term to deepen the city’s model efforts and strengthen the global network of families. I also invite you to join us in outreach efforts being conducted this week. You can engage in dialogue at a panel hosted by the Boston Network for International Development to be held at Boston University school of Law this Wednesday. You can join members of our new network in our songs and laughter at Passim’s nightclub this Thursday night at 7pm. Saturday night at 7pm you can join Loretta Filipov in an interfaith gathering at the Concord Trinitarian Congregational church to honor her husband and learn from terrorism expert Jessica Stern about truly effective responses based on deepened understanding at the Al Filipov Peace and Justice forum. Finally, this Sunday at noon you can view the film Seeds at the Brattle theater and learn more about developing youth leadership to understand and prevent conflict as modeled by the Seeds of Peace camp in Maine.
I have brought with me flyers on these events, a joint statement from our new international network of families, and a fact sheet of actions that can be taken by individuals, organizations, and local governments that can further this mission and thereby foster true security rather than the illusion of security afforded by fences and ever more powerful weapons.