|The day many of us will never forget.|
With this post appearing on September 11, it seems right to use it to reflect on that day 13 years ago when it seemed everything changed.
For most of us the morning began quietly enough, but before long we began having one of those “you’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy” moments. We started hearing about a commercial jet slamming into one of the World Trade Center towers. “How does that happen?” we all wondered. When the second jet rammed the other tower, we knew.
As the day unfolded we learned more and more about the causes and effects of those horrendous, unimaginable acts of terrorism, not only in Manhattan but also at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and in a lonely Pennsylvania field. It became one of those “where were you when…” events, like the assassination of JFK, the passing of Elvis, and the Challenger explosion. It’s interesting how tragic, unexpected deaths create for us mental and emotional markers.
That, of course, was in 2001. We’re now in 2014, and the world we knew then has changed dramatically, irrevocably. From long security lines at airports to the unending wars in the Middle East, from memorials that remain for the thousands who died on that day to the unfortunate profiling of Muslims because of a small minority of deranged terrorists, life is very different today.
It would be nice to conclude we’ve learned some things from that day. Well, we have, but many of those things haven’t been good. Terrorism remains an ever-present threat. Hatred across ethnic, ideological and racial lines persists, perhaps stronger than ever. So far the answer to the question, “Can’t we all just get along?” seems a resounding, “No!”
Some people far more optimistic and idealistic than me continue to espouse the belief humanity is “evolving,” and eventually we’ll become more loving, more accepting, kinder, and more (and I hate this word) “tolerant.” But where’s the proof? Show me the evidence.
More than ever, our nation – and the world – seem encamped at starkly divergent, irreconcilable ideological poles. At this rate, the word “compromise” will probably soon be eradicated from dictionaries due to lack of use. The polarizing influence of news reporting and the dart-throwing of opinions on social media only feed this growing malaise.
Violence in many forms hasn’t abated. If anything it’s escalated, and contrary to what some believe, I don’t think the solution is simply more stringent gun laws. When people are hell-bent on mayhem, if they want guns they’ll find them. And if they can’t get guns, killers will use knives, explosives, hammers, sewing needles, or their bare hands if they need to do so. Didn’t the terrorists at the Boston Marathon use pressure cookers?
Years ago we often heard the declaration, “There are no absolutes!” Many seem to have bought into this philosophy, and now we’re reaping what we’ve sown. In the Old Testament, Judges 21:25 states, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Regardless of your view of President Obama, it seems everyone these days is intent on doing as they see fit – what is right in their own eyes.
So where are we, 13 years after the grim, unspeakable events of 9-11? What have we learned – for the better? If we’re determined to insist on “my truth,” as if we find Truth served on a buffet table so we can select whatever appeals to us at the moment, it seems foolish for us to expect any positive change. As someone has said, “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”
Does that suggest we should despair? Not at all. Despite the events of 9-11, and everything since then, we have the assurance God hasn’t changed one iota. As the Scriptures assure us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
I’m confident God is busily at work, even though He might not be doing things in the way we think they should be done. But that’s why He is God – and we’re not. He doesn’t need our advice. The depth of His love, grace and mercy defy our comprehension.
So as I observe the continuing, escalating turmoil around us, there’s not much in what we see to inspire hope. But then I’m reminded, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
It also helps to reflect on days when thoughts of God were alien to our minds, and then “remember at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near” (Ephesians 2:12).