Monday, September 11, 2006

Thoughts on 9/11

I've avoided, as best I can, the mawkish anniversary "celebrations" of September 11, 2001. I skipped those parts in the newspapers this morning, turned off the news when the reportings began, felt glad to evade the presidential visage spouting platitudes about freedom haters and staying the course. I am of decidedly mixed feelings about this event, however, grieving the loss of so many lives and the attendant wakeup call to America yet wondering why we wallow in this grief in this particular way.

The anniversary every year, with its "we will not forget" rhetoric, seems to me a parody of how we really ought to be observing this moment in time. Yes, it was dreadful to be attacked. Yes, it was horrible to lose so many lives. Yes, many heroes were born that day. Yes, American life was changed forever. Yes, we had to respond to this attack.

And yet........... many other nations and peoples have had equally devastating events occur, from bombings to natural disasters, to wars, to genocide. Some nations and peoples have ONLY ever lived in this way-----under siege constantly from all directions. But somehow, American grief about 9/11 seems out of proportion to the number of lives lost, horror of attack, lost sense of safety. It seems to me deliberately drummed up for the purpose of giving us an excuse to respond vengefully.

Some nations and peoples have NEVER been safe. Some nations and peoples have lost and lost and lost and lost. Their grief represents much greater losses than ours, yet ours supersedes theirs, ours is more important, ours is greater, ours is more holy, ours is more worthy of revenge.

And that's what gets me: the revenge part. All this moaning and speechifying and eulogizing and commemorating can be true grief, or it can be an excuse for revenge. And that's all that has happened because of 9/11--------revenge.

I am sickened by revenge, whether it is in playground battles, in congregations where a member who doesn't like a decision reneges on his pledge, in families where children become pawns to satisfy vengefulness of a parent. And I am especially sickened by it when nations have to get even, at the expense of the innocent.

1 comment:

Berrysmom said...

Today at our Ministers Association chapter meeting we reflected on the day five years ago, when we happened to be in a chapter meeting. For me, it was the best way to remember the horror of 9/11/2001, because it gave me a way also to remember the strength we drew from one another as colleagues, and how we helped center each other befoe we parted company to go home and make ourselves available to our congregations.

There were some tears today remembering that other day...