September 11, 2001 is immortalized by infamy. Nine years later Americans still struggle with understanding and responding.
Toward continued healing, here are 9 things we should remember and 11 recommendations for moving ahead.
Every life matters. Each person who died (2,977 innocents, 19 suicidal perpetrators) is, like us, eternally important. God creates, individually bestows, and affirms life, not death.
Victims hailed from 90 countries. Loss of life is significant no matter who dies, but 9/11 was not just an American tragedy. It was a world tragedy.
First Responders died in the line of duty. In addition to civilian and military dead 343 fire-fighters, 60 police personnel, 15 EMTs, and a K-9 Dog named Sirius died as heroes. In ensuing years, as many as 900 are dead due to complications connected with their rescue work on 9/11. About 2,000 more were injured.
9/11 was a planned enemy attack. Despite conspiracy theories and 9/11 truth organizations claiming otherwise, to date there’s no credible evidence 9/11 was other than a terrorist suicide attack. 19 hijackers commandeering four jets for key targets was not a random act.
Evil exists. No amount of hope or general faith in the “goodness of human kind” can dispel the fact that evil is. It’s part of the human condition, and the challenge of dealing with it individually and socially will always be with us.
Nobility exists. Though evil had its day, human beings rose to the challenge in remarkable and admirable ways—the First Responders, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s leadership, citizen sacrifice and community, citizen service-qua-heroism.
People cared. Americans gave more than $1.4 billion and tens of thousands of units of blood toward 9/11relief.
God is in charge. He did not forget, go to sleep, or get surprised. He is sovereign, omniscient, and omnipotent.
Never forget. This phrase has become synonymous with 9/11 and rightly so.
Construct 9/11 Memorials as expressions of respect and remembrance. Memorials are recorded in Scripture and every nation and culture has developed means of honoring their dead. Most Civil War memorials were not erected until the 1880s-1920s, decades after the war. Passing time yields understanding, depth, perspective.
Clarify how we describe those responsible for 9/11. After 9 years American leaders in both parties still haven’t learned to define and identify who it is that threatens American security. We need to set aside political correctness, ignorance, and/or a foolish embrace of hoped-for visions of the enemy in favor of realistic ones.
Learn more about the Middle East. The Middle East is a region, not a nation-state. It includes North Africa and the Gulf States, involves 22 countries, 7 time zones, and 500+ million people. Spiritually and politically it is the most strategic region of the world.
Learn more about Islam. This is a complex religion practiced by more than 1.57 billion people worldwide and growing in influence. It’s not a simple creed but one nuanced by cultural and country-specific variations, ideological movements, and political agendas.
Honestly assess America’s actions and responsibility, but get over the fantasy of blaming all our problems on America. This is an approach oddly popular among a segment of the American citizenry, odd in the sense that the hand they bite is the one that feeds them.
If the American military is deployed, identify clearly stated objectives including an exit strategy, use levels of force required to execute the objectives, win, and get out. I’m convinced Americans are perennially more disturbed by the confusing way we’ve gone about fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan than they are the actual perceived need to fight.
Prepare for possible future attacks. This is responsible political, social, and as necessary military stewardship. Another attack is more probable than we want to admit, and we're not prepared. It seems so logical but not to those who don't really believe in human depravity and, consequently, believe talk and good intentions can solve all tensions.
In the face of fear, anxiety, and anger affecting our society be prepared to speak your faith. In 1 Peter 3:15 the Apostle reminded us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Recognize that life goes on. God gives us life and he wants us to live it. Building a future is not a disrespect of 9/11, and other travails have occurred that also require our ministrations.
Look for opportunity in the face of tragedy and its aftermath. This is a life-affirming thought rooted in a Christian worldview. If indeed God was in charge even on 9/11, and he was, than he’s in charge of how he can then-and-now enable us to turn tragedy to triumph. Sin has its moments but never ultimate victory if we look to the Lord to work through us.
Don’t claim insider knowledge about what God is doing. God is providentially engaged with human history, but we work with finite understanding and should take care to avoid comments detailing God’s every step (Romans 11:33-34).
On this day we did not forget.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010
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