September 11 2011 14:30 | Marstallplatz

Witness: September 11 2011

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My name is Emily Aoyama. On the morning of September 11th, 2001, my father, David Selma Aoyama, boarded American Airline Flight No. 11 bound from Boston to Los Angeles. He was 48 at the time — he was a healthy, fun-loving, devoted father, and I like to think that he was excited to finally see his efforts pay off through his teenage daughter's and son's bright future. He worked in Santa Monica for the SGI-USA Buddhist association of which I am a member. But instead of arriving home in Los Angeles, his plane would be the first to strike the World Trade Center towers just a block away from where we are gathered today.
My father would not get to see us attending college, and we could not get to show him how much we were able to grow and how much we appreciated and missed him. My mother my brother and I were overwhelmed with a deep sense of sadness and loss.
How could something like this happen? Who could be so callous and hateful to inflict this much suffering on others? How do we stop those whose actions so demean the very dignity of life?
I struggled with these questions through the days and months that followed, my feelings colored by confusion and despair. In the depths of this struggle I found hope in the teachings of Buddhism and in the words of my teacher Daisaku Ikeda who reminded me that the real enemies were not any specific group or religion or culture. He said that the real enemies are poverty, hatred and, above all, the dehumanization that pervades contemporary society.
This day marking the 10th anniversary of September 11th teaches me that one of the deeper causes of the violence in all societies is the lack of the value of human life. For that I firmly believe that the religions have today an important and irreplaceable role to be played.
I promise to my father and all the victims lost in the tragedy - which is the "symbol" of all the tragedies happened during the first terrible decade of this XXI Century - that all their lives will not fall in vain, and I will build a path toward lasting peace.
I strongly thank the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Archdiocese of Munich and all the religious leaders and the goodwill people present in this significant International Meeting for welcoming today my experience. Yes, I firmly believe that we are "Bound to Live Together", this is the chance towards the future.