In a few short weeks, people everywhere will commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. Ceremonies of remembrance will be particularly poignant here in New York where grief and loss still weigh heavy. Memories of last year’s vitriolic debate over proposed construction of a Muslim Community Center in lower Manhattan adds a layer of anxiety to an anniversary already fraught with emotion. It is a time to honor the past and yet it is also an opportunity to look forward to a time where differences among us are respected just as divisions between us are eliminated.
Intersections has been working with a coalition of six multi-faith groups called Prepare New York which seeks to strengthen the social fabric of the city and serve as a model for other settings across the country by carrying out a comprehensive, multi-pronged effort to inspire New Yorkers to engage in the difficult but necessary dialogue about religious diversity, and give voice to the millions of our neighbors who are ready to move beyond hate and toward healing.
To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, Prepare New York is sponsoring Ribbons of Hope. Everyone is invited to bring a ribbon to Battery Park between the hours of noon on Friday, September 9 and dusk on Sunday, September 11. This walk of healing to downtown Manhattan is symbolic in that it reverses the fear-filled path that so many experienced as they fled Ground Zero a decade ago.
On the ribbon, we are asking individuals to write a thought or prayer or hope for the healing of the city and for the whole world. Then, in Battery Park during the commemoration weekend, ribbons of all colors, shapes, sizes and textures will be joined to form a large tapestry symbolic of the marvelous mosaic that is New York.
Individuals, families, groups and organizations can gather ribbons in neighborhood settings, in clubs and congregations and can then designate a messenger to come to lower Manhattan and affix the ribbons to the tapestry. People of all ages can participate. There is no fixed size or shape or width or length. The diversity of ribbons received is a large part of the point.
On Monday, September 12th, prominent New York religious leaders will dedicate the tapestry of the Ribbons of Hope. The tapestry will then hang in prominent public places around the city in an effort to continue the dialogue of inclusion, compassion, and celebration of religious diversity. We trust this will serve as a positive symbol in our city, long after the tenth anniversary of September 11 has passed.
New Yorkers will be joined by people from across the country and around the world who are being invited to also collect ribbons in the weeks leading up to 9/11 and send them to Intersections:
274 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Be sure they arrive at Intersections by September 11th to be included. Include your name and contact information, the name of your organization, if applicable, your location and any interesting story about making your ribbons that you think others would be interested in.”
So, what would your ribbon say? What is your hope for healing in a world where dysfunctional debt ceiling debates linger for weeks while thousands of children starve in Somalia; where high unemployment continues to wrack American families with pain and suffering as income disparity achieves unprecedented levels; where religious extremism continues to plague us and where the number of hate crimes continue to rise; where we are awed by the bravery of protesters in Syria while we struggle to extricate ourselves from Iraq and Afghanistan. What would your ribbon say?
Join this effort. Collect ribbons in your family, group or organization. Write down your hope for healing and send it to Intersections or bring it to Battery Park during the 9/11 weekend. Add your voice to the chorus of countless others who sing a song of justice, reconciliation and hope on this important anniversary.