As we acknowledge and respect the many who lost lives at the 9/11 tragedy and hold ourselves in silence and prayers that their souls have found eternal peace on the 10th anniversary of a tragedy that changed the world, we must also stop and ask what we have learned over the years?

In my humble opinion, the choices our nation made after the 9/11 tragedy have made the world a more dangerous place. Some 90 countries lost lives in this tragedy, including France and Germany and many of our allies whom we alienated by taking a unilateral decision to handle the response alone.

You cannot destroy violence with violence - you cannot destroy dark with dark - you cannot destroy hate with hate - only love can do that as Martin Luther King taught us. As Gandhi taught, "An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind."

The tragedy of 9/11 was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for unity in our world, perhaps one of the biggest opportunities we've ever seen. So many countries lost lives; we had the chance to come together and unite as a planet. We could have determined collectively how to make this a better world and deal with terrorism with different lenses.

The 9/11 tragedy did not happen in a vacuum - what did actions done in the name of our country contribute to such outrage bestowed on us? Are our foreign policies aimed at creating a planet that works for all, or are they about greed and avarice?

As a nation out to create freedom and security, let us look at the last 10 years - are there more or less terrorists now than before? Is there more violence in the world than before? If, God forbid, another 9/11 tragedy hit us, what would our reaction be? As a society I believe we all want peace and to live in a city and a country that is safe. Unless we understand that we can only destroy hate with love, eradicate revenge with forgiveness and embrace rather than continue conflict - our world will continue to be torn by violence.

Recently we experienced a shocking tragedy in Norway, a country known for tolerance and nonviolence. How many more of these guys like Anders Behring Breivik are out there in the world? Why is there so much rage and anger in our society at home and abroad? I believe it's partly because we do not practice goodwill, empathy, compassion, forgiveness and peacemaking.

During this month, the opportunity is at hand to promote the principles of nonviolence. If we had done that the entire time since 9/11, it would have given us a much safer and a better world. It would have saved so much grief, so much money, and so many lives. The cost of our response - trillions on war - has helped create huge deficits that now compromise our economy and potential job markets for our children and grandchildren. Just imagine if these trillions were invested wisely; imagine how our economy would be doing now.

How many tragedies must happen before we recognize that violence is never the right solution? It always makes things worse, not better.

I believe violence is a learned behavior; no child was born violent. If we accept that as a truism, nonviolence can also be a learned behavior. However - we need to teach it and be exemplary models. What happens in the U.S. happens in the world. If we can role model empathy, compassion, forgiveness and nonviolence and atone for the many wrongs we have done, we can make the United States and the planet peaceful, creating a world that works for everyone.

Author's Bio: 

Azim Khamisa is an inspiration. Hailed by dignitaries such as the Dalai Lama, Former President Bill Clinton and Al Gore, Azim carries his inspirational message of forgiveness, peace and hope into a world in desperate need of each. Following the loss of his only son Tariq in 1995 to a senseless, gang-related murder, Azim chose the path of forgiveness and compassion rather than revenge and bitterness, and this amazing choice led to the establishment of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation ( and the subsequent forgiveness movement which has reached millions.