Monday, September 12, 2011

I must be the only spiritual writer on the web who hasn't blogged interminably around the subject of the tenth anniversary of the horrendous 9/11 attacks.  I could say that it's because much of last week was spent battling strep throat.  I could say that the Labor Day weekend camping trip took me away from all network connections.  I could say I was more wrapped up in trying to stay abreast of my schoolwork.  I could certainly say that my participation in an all-day plein air paint-out the day before left me with no energy to sit down and write.

All of those things are true, and as excuses not to write they might stand up to scrutiny.

But here is something else that is also true.

Every moment of the weekend, indeed for weeks leading up to this date, every media face and name has saturated the news channels, the blogosphere, television, and the social networks.  It seems that everyone (and that's millions of people) who has a voice in any way in the media has taken it upon themselves to review, analyze, and re-interpret the events of that disastrous time in our lives.  Whether it's a political pundit or just Barbie Blogger, everyone seems to want to tell all the rest of us how the events unfolded, what they meant then, and how we will be changed forever because of them.

It sounds very much like our reaction, the so-called "War on Terror", has not accomplished an important goal, i.e. helping to facilitate this country's ability to move through our legitimate grief.  Think about it for a moment.  Although many voices have compared the terrorist attacks to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, that action was the action of a country pursuing its own national interests. Say what we will about Japan's motivation, an act of war is not equal to a criminal act perpetrated by terrorist gangsters.  One very important difference in processing our grief over the losses we sustained in war, even World War II, which cost nearly half a million American lives is this:

On many levels, we knew the difference between fighting a war between countries for their national interests and striking out blindly at masked criminals who vanish into the night.

I personally still struggle with the criminality of the 9/11 attacks, and although I believe it was certainly in our country's best interests to see to it that Osama bin Laden paid with his life, the Christian I want to be cannot celebrate his death.  Neither can that Christian support making September 11 a national holiday and lining the streets with flags and watching the day devolve into parades and cook-outs, which distance and time will surely bring about.

The thing I could do was to make the above paltry visual comment on our altar at church yesterday on the day our pastor preached the sermon, "Forgiveness:  It's complicated."  You may notice the tall rectangular vases, which I chose to represent the two towers of the World Trade Center.  In them are white Easter lilies, the symbol of resurrection.  Central to the vignette is the cross, the symbol through which people like me struggle to see God revealed in Jesus.  The white and the purple drapes are symbols of God's sovereignty (purple) and the promise of the Resurrection (white) although purple is also a color for mourning.  Finally, the batik in the center contains emblems of the major world religions.  In hope of eventually sharing the everlasting Divine and the peace that is revealed through love, perhaps we can manage through our grief.

There is no easy way to forget our loss, and I'm not saying to forget.  I am saying, however, that we must accept the events that have happened, place our hope in something greater than ourselves, and move forward.  If that means ending up lining the streets with flags and marching, just know that I'll be staying home.  Please don't expect me to join in for the hot dogs and beer. 

I'm proud to be an American, but I am humbled to be a child of God first.


Colleen McDougal said...

Your altars have message and meaning beyond the artistry. The very idea that 9-11 may eventually become a celebratory beer-swilling excuse for a holy-day is very unsettling to me. We already have too many of those. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful impressions.

Quicksilver Spirit said...

Thanks, Colleen. There were some very touching remembrances, to be sure, but we Americans seem remarkably able to go over the top. It will be interesting to see where we take it, I think.

Judy said...

I too have mixed feelings about 9/11. Yes, it was a terrible event, tragedy, whatever you want to call it. But I also compare it to Pearl Harbor which was also terrible in the same way. My father was there and was a survivor. He told me the story from his point of view on board one of the ships attacked. But there is a difference - you said it - it was an attack of national interest. 9/11 was not - it was a religious attack - an attack on our beliefs done by a radical religious faction. Why do we have to celebrate this event as a major holiday when most of us forget the date of Pearl Harbor and many other significant dates in our country's history. No, I won't be celebrating this terrible thing that happened and I won't be forgetting it either.
Thanks again for your wonderful insights into life.