The images from September 11, 2001 are permanently etched on our national consciousness. I’ll never forget what happened, and pray that it never happens again. I’d like to propose that September 12 be the real holiday… the day we all came together. We were unified as Americans, flying flags of freedom, connected to each other’s souls in solidarity. Can we get that feeling back without suffering another disaster?
Only 9 years have passed, and it will take several generations before the wounds are completely healed. (We’re still talking about national wounds from World War II over 60 years later.) I’m still angry about what happened on September 11. I don’t blame those who lost loved ones on that day for feeling angry for the rest of their lives, but we DO have a choice in the way we express that anger. Can it be harnessed, channeled and focused on moving forward?
The war we continue to fight is the most difficult war of all. It’s not a war against uniformed troops with conventional weapons lined up along a geographic front like WW II. It’s a war against an ideology, adopted by pathological “soldiers” who apparently have nothing else to live for. What’s worse, they invoke the name of their god as they take their own lives along with the lives of innocent civilians. It is the most senseless and evil thing I can think of. Perhaps because I have so much to live for – my family, my friends and helping those who need help.
Maybe this is the key to overcoming the anger. We continue to give and help neighbors who need help – essentially, to keep being Americans. We make sure that OUR ideology of building, not tearing down, continues to thrive. This was the feeling that peaked on September 12, one day after the dark side took their shot.
Just to be clear, I am not encouraging weakness. We should continue to show strength where strength is needed. Often it is the only thing the enemy responds to. If you negotiate with terrorists you typically give power to the powerless, and they will laugh at you after you leave the table.
And since the enemy has dragged religion into this fight, I’ll take a risk and offer my opinion on that as well. My fellow Americans of all faiths… your church / synagogue / mosque / temple / other may have taught you that yours was the only “true” religion, and to go forth and “convert” the unenlightened. It makes sense from a “religion sustainability” standpoint, but it’s an unrealistic solution for the entire world.
So here’s my call to action for ALL of us. I encourage you to not just tolerate, but respect, other religions. There’s nothing wrong with supporting your own “tribe,” but can you back off a little on the world domination part? Create a purpose for your life that promotes building up, not tearing down. Look around you at the children with wide eyes and open minds. Do you really want them to grow up with distrust or hate in their hearts? It begins with you.
We came together in solidarity on September 12. Let’s come together again.
Lovely commentary, David.
Where is the controversial part?
I am a Christian. Christ stated that He is the only way to the Father, and He commanded us to go forth and make disciples of all nations. Therefore I believe that Christianity is the only true religion, and I have every intention of doing my part to spread it around the world.
Now, let’s unpack all of that a little bit. First off, don’t confuse following Christ with the Christian religion. Organized religion is a man-made entity and therefore full of the same sin that man is full of. There are power plays and agendas and evil people who use religion for their own gain. I view organized religion as a necessary evil, and I do believe that it does more good than harm, but not by a wide margin.
Secondly, in believing that Christ is the only way, I don’t believe it in a “my religion is better than your religion” way. I believe it in a “I have the cure for cancer and I want to share it” way.
Because I believe that Christ is the key to eternal life and I have that knowledge to share, I want to share it with the whole world. I don’t want anyone, no matter who they are, what they’ve done, or what faith they currently follow, to miss out on eternal life. I don’t want to control the world, I don’t want to impose my will on the world, I want to offer the world eternal life.
Which comes down to the crux of the matter – how do I want to do that? Through fear and intimidation? Through threats? “Conversion by the sword?” Through political control?
I want to introduce people to Christ. I want to let them know that they are loved and forgiven, unconditionally, no strings attached. My hope is that they will meet Christ, understand what He has to offer, and follow Him. True faith, true belief, cannot be forced on anyone, it must be arrived at and accepted.
And there’s the difference between real Christianity and fundamentalist Islam. Islam at its core is a political ideology, not a religion. Its fundamentalist followers want to see Shari’a law imposed around the world, not because everyone believes in it, but as a means of control.
So I will not just live and let live. I hate the “coexist” bumper sticker. If I just live and let live, if I just coexist, there may be people who will not spend eternity in paradise because of my lack of effort. And if I don’t stand up to fundamental Islam, it will be even worse. But I will not force my beliefs on anyone. I will offer them. They are free to engage or to walk away.
David – You’ve graciously and clearly expressed the fact that we, as human beings, are a team. We need to put our best faith effort into working side by side to create a better environment for all of our children, regardless of race, gender or religious beliefs. Of course, we’ll never live in a perfect world, but we can’t give up.