Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight years later...

It is hard t o believe that eight years have gone by since 9/11/2001. We all know where we were when those planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We all still remember how our hearts broke when the towers fell. We knew that thousands had just lost their lives. Eight years later, where are we in our recovery? I do not speak about those individuals who lost family members and friends on 9/11, but instead I want to talk about the United States as a community. We are a community despite our rampant individualism. Unfortunately, if takes an event of great tragedy to remind us that we are a community.

Any book on grieving will tell you that it is a process and that each person grieves in different ways, but each person must move forward, however slowly, through the process. I do not believe that our country grieved over 9/11. Yes, there were countless TV specials, as I am sure there will be today, and we place our flags on our porches and we post our special 9/11 Facebook statuses. However, I believe that we never really dealt with our collective pain and the gaping wound we suffered as a community on 9/11. We were encouraged to shop after 9/11 and go to baseball and football games. We were told to go out and buy a house or buy a Ford or the terrorists will win. Our leaders, with the exception of some of our religious leaders, never told us to grieve and so our wound never healed. Perhaps, we tried to ignore our pain and now we only bring it our one day a year. Now our unhealed and ignore wound is festering. It festers with the infection of racism, bigotry, and profiling. It led us into two wars with suspicious, at best, connections to Al Qaeda and 9/11. Our grief and our unhealed wound lead us to create a false idol of Americana, where everything is alright as long as you wear a flag pin and put your hand over your heart. We remember 9/11 one day a year and for the other 364 days we will sweep our grief under the rug. However, we must remember that when there is not grieving there is not healing and there is no forgiveness.

To speak of forgiveness for those 19 men on those planes and the countless others who planned and funded the attacks is blasphemous in the United States. How could we, as a community, ever forgive anyone who inflicted such a tragic blow to us? Let me be clear, forgiveness does not mean that Osama Bin Laden and the other perpetrators should not be held accountable and brought to justice. However, forgiveness does mean that we begin to heal the wound of our community. The radical message of the cross is that the same forgiveness that washes over us as Americans washes over those 19 men.

What unity there was in the days and weeks following 9/11 has long since passed. We are divided and angry. Perhaps the fragility of our unity was due to it being based on anger and fear rather than grief and forgiveness. After eight years, I think it is time to begin.

No comments: