First , a disclaimer: This may sound a little preachy (hopefully not!) I’m sorry, it’s not my intention to preach, just to type out what is in my heart to help me make sense of it, and if what I’m feeling really is true, I hope it will benefit someone… I pray that if I am way off base here, that it will all be disregarded by whomever reads it. But I had to get it out of myself. I have to address my own mistakes.
I have a confession.
I, at first, didn’t remember that today was 9/11. I am really mad at myself for that… I mean, I am feeling overwhelmed in my own little world today, no question, but that is no good excuse. September 11, 2001 was the day that changed all of us… the day that changed our course, changed our future, changed our expectations and shook us out of our world of complacency and security into a world at war.
Side note: There are students in my class who cannot remember a time when we weren’t at war; some of the same students say that they don’t know much about 9/11 because (infuriating direct quote:) “it doesn’t really affect us.”
They have no idea.
Usually on 9/11, I get on facebook and post something about where I was and what I was doing when I saw the live footage of the attack. I might post about how it knocked the breath out of me; how everywhere I went that day or the next or the next everyone was quiet; how scary it was, and how heartbreaking; how many prayers went up from the people of this nation; how many hands were held, candles carried, tears shed.
But this morning? I instead remembered that I’m running behind on this fundraiser I’m involved with at my daughter’s school, so I posted a link to the fundraising site. Blame it on a lack of coffee, or self-absorption; both are probably true, but.. I never would have done that had I remembered what day it was. Just sayin’. So sorry ’bout that.
Anyway, a few minutes later, having remembered what day it was and feeling scummy, I got back online to post something appropriate, feeling like I should acknowledge somehow –even though a facebook status is definitely a VERY meager acknowledgement–the significance of the day and how important it is that we should remember those who were even more affected than the rest of us by its events.
Unfortunately, I glanced at my feed first (big mistake), and saw a pointed meme someone had shared about political candidates. The meme itself was no biggie…typical political meme. But what bothered me was that this meme had originally been posted by a group called “Americans Against A Certain Opposing Group of Other Americans That This Group Doesn’t Like” (well, that wasn’t their name…It was Americans Against ___________, but I don’t want to say whose name was in the blank. Won’t make anyone feel good at all and isn’t relevant to what I am trying to say.)
Anyway, when I saw the name of the group, it literally made me want to cry.
Because what the name of that group is really saying is, “We are Americans against other Americans.”
That grieved me somehow, on a level that I can’t exactly define. I don’t think it would have cut me as deep on any other day. However, since it’s out there, I’m glad I saw it today; today, it got my attention.
The things I have been thinking and feeling, the frustration and hurt feelings about how I am perceived and spoken to by those who disagree with me politically, are not mine alone. The frustration seems to be escalating on all sides of every issue, and when I see that the country is divided almost exactly down the middle over almost every major issue brought up in this election; then I think about all the hateful things being said by either side to the other and about the other (angry generalizations made about entire halves of the American population!); and then I realize that people are saying they are not just against the beliefs on the other side, but are “against” the PEOPLE on the other side–not the just the political leaders, but the plain old everyday you-and-me citizens — well, it is upsetting.
This may seem picky, but what does that even mean, to be “against” someone? If memory serves me correctly, when God set His face against someone in the Old Testament, it meant he had determined to allow their destruction. Do people actually want on some primal level to destroy one another? Let’s say…no. Right? Hopefully not, anyway. It would be extreme and melodramatic to jump to that conclusion; I’m not saying that is what is going on here. But being “against” someone is still a pretty powerful, intense sentiment. Any other day, I would’ve seen the meme, been irritated, and moved on (or at least tried to… I am trying to break my comment war addiction and am doing pretty well so far…). But today, I had September 11, 2001 on the brain.
I remembered the way that on that day, everyone forgot about every division, every argument, every philosophical or political or religious chasm that yawns between us and chose instead to comfort, to pray, to embrace, and to love. I remembered how we all hated that it took something so tragic to make that happen — it got our attention, made us reevaluate ourselves in every way–but I am still so proud that we reacted by holding onto one another tightly instead of pushing each other away.
I am one of the lucky ones… I didn’t lose anyone in the towers or the Pentagon that day: no innocent family member sitting at a computer putting in an honest day’s work, no true blue hero rushing in to pull others out, no modern-day American martyr taking over a plane to save the commander-in-chief . But on that day, those who were lost became our own loved ones in a small way… they could so easily have been our fathers or mothers, our sons or daughters. We adopted them, mourning with their loved ones in an effort to shoulder some of their grief. For our part, it was still traumatic, losing our national innocence, in a way; losing the illusion of control over this life. Still, those of us who didn’t lose anyone close that day were spared the worst of the nightmare. God bless the ones who were lost, and the loved ones they left behind…they are still in our prayers, etched into our hearts forever. We are forever indebted to those who sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others… no words can adequately express our gratitude, our sorrow.
I was thinking in some nebulous way about all of that when I saw the meme, so maybe you might be able to understand how I couldn’t help being upset by the idea of us being “against” one another…maybe because it called me out on my own behavior.
Have we learned nothing?
Have I learned nothing…?
I’m going to spend some time soul-searching a bit. I can get pretty intense about my beliefs, and while I don’t intend to back down from them, or to condone what I feel is wrong, but in fact to stand against it, I hope that I can honestly say when I am finished that I am not against any other American …I hope that deep down, when my motives are checked, I really do still want for good things for a person even if he or she would argue with me over every value that I hold dear. I cling to the freedom to disagree with them and to say so and to stand for what I believe is right… I must!! I must not shy away!! Standing firm is the essence of America!! But I want us ALL to be ok. I wish evil and heartbreak on no one. Because I just remembered that we’re supposed to be on the same team at the end of the day (especially today)...we’re supposed to be on Team America.
I don’t know how we can turn all the crazy that is out there right now into an even stronger team than before, but we have to figure it out!!!! We are fools if we have not learned to fight for and to protect the things that are important by now, and those things are our freedom and one another. I don’t want the pain of 9/11 to be in vain. I’m sorry, so sorry I have drunk the anger Kool-Aid and been active in all the backbiting and tirades and ranting. I will not stop standing up for my beliefs… I hope that I will even stand stronger and taller for them. But I’m going to get back to my Bible, back to the basics, the way I did back then. Then I am going to try and pray for and reach out to those around me and make sure they know that I love them, regardless of the rest. That’s my personal goal for the next few months until (and after) the election: to love. Maybe if we can do THAT while sticking to our guns, God will bless us with a way out of all this conflict?
My prayer: God, please forgive us and somehow, bring us all to You and bring us peace. Please bring us to whatever road You intend for us. Please protect our children and give them a future of peace and freedom. Forgive us for our mistakes. I thank You, Lord. Amen.