Today is the eleventh anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil to date (previous to this date the worst attack was when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941). I remember the events of 9/11 as clearly as if it happened yesterday (as I’m sure many of you do, too). I was working at the University of Central Florida in Orlando at the time and I walked down the hallway to a little coffee shop in the lobby to get coffee shortly after 9:00 a.m. At the checkout counter someone had placed a tiny little black and white TV perched atop some books and as I looked at the image I saw on the screen I watched an instant replay of the first plane that hit the first tower minutes earlier. Was this real? Was it a movie? It absolutely shocked me. And, as we all know, it was all too real. Surreal actually.
A second plane hit the second tower and within a short period of time after that both towers came crashing down. Students and staff filled classrooms with TV sets to watch in horror all that unfolded that morning not only in New York City but also in a field in Pennsylvania and in Washington, D.C. Around noon the President of the campus announced that the campus was shutting down for security reasons and we were all told to go home. The security of living in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” had been violated at it’s core. Nothing felt safe anymore.
“Eleven years ago today, a group of Muslim terrorists deliberately calculated and executed a plan to attack and mass murder Americans on our own soil. Not only did they kill nearly three thousand of our fellow citizens; they killed in the name of their god and their religion.
“For a moment, we saw a glimmer of hope that America had been roused from her deep sleep. We saw millions of people pour into churches. Citizens were interested in addressing the issue of radical Islam. Patriotism was seen everywhere. However, the change of heart did not last very long. Soon, eyes grew heavy and many Americans hit the snooze button so they could sleep just a little bit longer. As they drifted back to sleep, they hoped someone would broker a cheap peace with an ideology they did not understand.”
For the first time since that tragedy happened, the National Cathedral has decided to scale back on it’s 9/11 services. “In past years, the cathedral hosted events that drew the attendance of presidents and other leaders. The interim dean, Rev. Dr. Francis Wade, said in a statement that he hopes the decision (e.g., to scale back) will help the country heal and move past the tragedy” [emphasis mine] (quote source here).
Will help the country heal and move past the tragedy?
Does this mean that terrorists fail to exist anymore? Does this mean it’s now okay to bury our heads in the sand and just ignore what happened and go about our “business as usual” lifestyle? As George Bernard Shaw stated, “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience” (quote source here).
Back on July 29, 2012, I wrote a blog post titled, “Tisha B’Av and 911,” comparing the horrific events that occurred across centuries on the exact same day each time to the Jewish nation to the horrific event that happened to Americans on September 11, 2001. Many Jewish people still mourn those horrific events every year with prayer and fasting on Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the Jewish month, Av) that took place centuries ago. We, instead, hit the snooze button eleven years after the horrific event that hit our nation, and are told that by doing so that it “will help the country heal and get past the tragedy.”
In an article titled, “When Good Men Do Nothing” (1997) by Wayne Greeson, he starts off with a quote by Edmund Burke that states, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” He continues by stating:
“So much of the history of the struggle between good and evil can be explained by Edmund Burke’s observation. Time and again those who profess to be good seem to clearly outnumber those who are evil, yet those who are evil seem to prevail far too often. Seldom is it the numbers that determine the outcome, but whether those who claim to be good men are willing to stand up and fight for what they know to be right [emphasis mine]. There are numerous examples of this sad and awful scenario being played out over and over again in the scriptures.”
Why don’t we ever learn from history? Why do we just roll over and hit the snooze button one more time?
There are people all over America who do remember 9/11 for the horrific tragedy it represents–those who lost loved ones and those who were directly impacted by this horrific tragedy. But when a nation as a whole, only eleven years after something so horrific happened to it, acts as if it’s time for the country to heal and get past the tragedy, that type of thinking is horribly myopic.
I’m reminded of the Holocaust and how in recent years groups have tried to downplay the horror that six million Jews plus many, many others experienced at the hands of Hitler and his ilk. The shear terror of it should be etched in our memories for as long as history is in the making. If one man could cause all of that horrific terror during WWII it certainly can happen again. But, as Edmund Burke stated, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
So, do we just continue to hit the snooze button and roll back over again, only concerned about our own little world that immediately affects us, or do we care about what is going on in the rest of America and around the world?
At this point you may be asking “what can I as one person possibly do to help change the course of history?” If you are Christian, you can pray–pray to the One who holds history in His hands. Evil does not come from God but He allows it (through our very powerful adversary and the evil that people do). You can read the Book of Job to get a better understanding of the role of evil in our world.
God didn’t create us as robots but as people with free will. Evil comes from our adversary and from our own evil desires (mostly desires the center on ourselves and what we want with little or no regard for anyone else). I am reminded of what the prophet Habakkuk said in Habakkuk 3:2:
“Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.”
“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
Nothing and no one can upset your plans.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
made small talk about wonders way over my head.
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.
Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”
And it was at this point that God restored Job by accepting his prayer.
May we never, ever forget the horrific tragedy of what happened on American soil eleven years ago today. May we never forget that evil is a powerful force in our world and among us and, yes, even within us. But also and most importantly may we never forget that if we turn back to God and stop hitting the snooze button and humble ourselves before Him He can heal our nation as stated in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
And to all of those who have been tragically affected by the events of 9/11, my heart and prayers go out to you on this national day of mourning.
May we never forget . . . .
YouTube Video: “Change the World” by Eric Clapton:
Photo credit here