Chances are good that your Facebook wall is difficult to behold today. Lots of “We Will Never Forget” graphics. Lots of “where I was that day” reminiscences. On the anniversary of 9/11/01 we are generally overwhelmed with images and stories that remind us of that day.
What I’m reminded of is the deep wounds our nation developed. Wounds that have not healed, and some that show no signs of healing at all.
I am deeply disheartened at the anti-Muslim sentiment in our nation. We were not attacked by Islam, we were attacked by terrorists. Terrorists come in multiple religions, multiple skin tones, multiple nationalities and ideologies. Terror organizations tend to use (abuse) the dominant religion of their region to manipulate people to work for their political ends. As long as we remind ourselves “We will never forget,” let us not forget that on April 19, 1995 we were struck by white-skinned American terrorists who claimed Christianity as their religion. We can no more blame Islam for 9/11 than we can Christianity for 4/19.
Let us never forget that the church failed to truly grasp the significance of 9/11 in the following weeks and months. Church attendance went up because people were looking for answers. And we collectively failed to communicate this simple and essential truth: we don’t know why bad things happen but we do know love, and love is the answer. And love isn’t some glitter-dust fairy tale of hippy-dippy idealism. No, love is gritty and tough. Love in action is self-sacrificial. Love means getting your hands dirty as you pull someone else up. Love means standing up for those whose voices are silenced, especially when it’s scary.
The anniversary of 9/11 should remind us that no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Remember to show your affection deeply to the ones you love the most. Hug your children. Kiss your spouse. Never pass up an opportunity to show them you love them. Like anything else that is precious, life is fragile.
Finally, let us never forget that our world is profoundly broken. Our government failed to prevent the terrorist attack, and in many ways it also failed to respond appropriately. (Remember, we were told to go shopping to stimulate the economy. Really? Our first response to terrorism was consumerism?) Humans, for some reason, love responding with violence and shows of force. We seek solutions that will bring peace, yet our efforts usually end up perpetuating conflict and war. We need to seek and find a better way.
We will never forget how desperate we are for hope in a broken world. We will never forget that genuine self-sacrificial love is in too-short supply. We will never forget that life is too precious and fragile to waste our time with conflict. We will never forget God’s vision of this world transformed, and our hope that one day we will turn our swords into plowshares and study war no more.