It’s 9/11 in the United States and I am spending the early night of 9/12 here in Australia watching “About A Boy” and being extremely disgruntled because my footy team has lost. Yesterday in Oz was a completely normal day. I spent my time sleeping, taking care of kittens, and reading J.K. Rowling’s “The Cuckoo’s Calling.” My wife came home, we had dinner, we watched “Doomsday Preppers,” and went to sleep. A normal day. Too normal.
For one day, I wasn’t thinking about politics at all. For one day, I wasn’t weighing the important things of the world at all. The only things I thought about all day was kittens, my book, and doing the dishes before my wife got home. I liked that those were the most important things in the world on that day.
You ever have one of those nights when you’re almost asleep and suddenly a thought strikes you about something you did a long time ago that was embarrassing and all of a sudden you can’t sleep? It happens to me a lot. Not that I’ve done a lot of embarrassing stuff (probably no more than anyone else), but I tend to remember those things. I tend to remember those things more than the bad things. I have emotional re-runs and most of the time, they suck.
9/11 is not exactly an embarrassing inscident in America’s past. It’s tragic, it’s awful, it’s heartbreaking. It should be remembered. But my question is, should it be remembered like this?
The Facebook Forum
This question came to the fore for me yesterday when looking through Facebook. 9/11 was trending, of course, and the highlights Facebook puts up on your feed (which they label ‘most important’) were all people talking about the day. Being here in Australia, I missed the whole big deal entirely until I was brought back to what happens in America by looking at the internet. It was rather jarring, honestly.
You see, the rest of the world doesn’t remember September 11th like Americans do. It’s just another day of the month. It does not rate an hour of dimmed lights, a minute of silence shared across the country, or the faux soberness of politicians muttering trite phrases into a microphone. Other countries have their own tragedies to commemorate and they do. But unlike America, they do not expect the entire world to share their loss. Other countries know that some things can be personal, even to a country’s population. Americans have forgotten that. We believe we are the world and are so used to commanding its attention that we are blind to what is happening in other places.
That’s what I was seeing on Facebook late last night as I couldn’t sleep. And therefore, I posted that there was nothing to say. “There is nothing more to be said about 9/11. Therefore, I shall say nothing.” I’ll talk about that in a second, but then this exchange happened and sent my brain into overdrive.
Now, guys, you know me. You know that I have this habit of analyzing things, analyzing myself, others, ideas, and the world. I did not go off half-cocked when I wrote that long diatribe on Facebook. Instead, I put down the thoughts that had been in my mind for some time, thoughts that I could not longer ignore.
Now, I have to admit to a few feelings of sheepishness. Obviously saying that there’s nothing to say and then saying that I won’t say anything is a bit… not hypocritical, but oxymoronic. I am indeed saying something instead of following my own assessment and saying nothing. Honestly, that basically sums up Facebook: saying things that we shouldn’t say. I’m human, what can I say? (NOTHING!)
Still, I think what did get said is important. A friend of mine wrote a post about 9/11 in which she pointed out that we ourselves are creators of terror in our own country, a fact she backed up with the example of Ferguson, MO. Our police officers are similarly armed to militants in the Middle East, and are also aimed at innocent people. We are no different to terrorists, except for the fact that we claim moral superiority. Not many people want to hear that. Every person on my Facebook who wants to “shoot the bastards in the head” for 9/11 does not want to hear that they themselves are instigating terror.
How? Most of these people haven’t hurt anybody in their lives. Some are good people who I would absolutely call when I need help, or who have served their country in some way, or who are good Christian people who pray every Sunday, or are secular people who try to do good simply for the fact that doing good is what is right. Some are the people who raised me, who helped shape me, who taught me those principles that I have found to be unerring guides through life. How could any of them have created terror?
It’s easy. It’s as easy as writing a post on Facebook and then doing nothing for the rest of the day. Evil thrives because good men do nothing. Because we do nothing. Because I do nothing.
Jesus said to turn the other cheek when someone hurts you. We often think of that as passivism, but it isn’t. Instead, we should ask ourselves what we are turning to when we offer up that other cheek? Jesus did not want us to allow evil to flourish by letting it hit us repeatedly. Instead, he wanted us to turn, to offer our other cheek and then change something so it would not happen to the person next in line. When you turn the other cheek, inevitably you should turn to other people who need help, protection, and care. Basically, Jesus was asking good men to do something rather than nothing.
America (by which I mean you and I and everyone else) has not turned its cheek. When bin Laden died, there was celebrating in the streets. We were happy when a man was killed without a trial or due process of the law. Yeah, we “got him.” But what did it do to our souls?
We have not been changed by 9/11. Instead, we are repeating it over and over again. Just recently, the President spoke to the nation in a rare, prime time television appearance. He had this to say:
“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
You punched us in the nose, so we’re going to break yours. Just like we did about 9/11.
For a supposedly Christian nation, we really don’t follow Christian principles very well, do we?