Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 -- Beyond Blame, the Meaning



F
ive years ago today, I was alone with my dear wife celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary. Far from anyone else, we endured the onslaught of news via radio (then TV) as a near-perfectly concieved conspiracy of evil. Carol and I embraced, a sudden outbreak of sobbing wracking both of our bodies. Anger surged as the perpetrators of the crime were revealed to be Osama bin Laden's Al Queida.

We tried to pray, and the imprecatory psalms suddenly took on a real character for me as I prayed for the terrorists' destruction. The prayer was schizophrenic: "God, please let us find bin Laden and -- well, let him have his chance to repent -- and then kill him. I'm sorry if this is a sinful prayer, I don't know how to pray, I'm so angry! Let us find him and kill him." Fairly pathetic attempt at a prayer...

Last night, watching ABC's controversial 9/11 movie didn't last long for me. It made me restless, and I suddenly realized why. It seemed a long hunt for someone to blame. Clinton? Bush? The FBI and CIA's inability to share information due to pride? And so on and bla bla bla. My finger twitched on the remote.

"In the end, however, imprecatory psalms give way to my own faith's call to love even my enemies."

I ended up instead watching parts of the documentary on CBS, one that dealt more with finding meaning in and through 9/11 rather than trying to find scapegoats. The suffering, and the redemptive power of love, seemed far more pertinent and far closer to any truth worth finding through the tragic events of that terrible day and the days that followed.

Today, I find myself still angry at radical fundamentalisms, even as I'm repelled and intrigued by the insanely pristine logic of their deeds. Al Queida, a group who's twisted version of Islam is reminiscent of the KKK's warped version of Christianity, offers by far the more striking example. And as I watched events from five years ago this morning (via CNN's 'pipe' broadasts) I found those emotions reawakened again.

In the end, however, imprecatory psalms give way to my own faith's call to love even my enemies. Either I believe that love really is stronger -- and I'm talking stronger even in terms of forceful might -- than hate, or it is not, and my faith in a God of Love is vain. I do not argue here for theoretical paficism, or theological pacifism, but rather a practical, faith-based activism rooted in love.

Let us love. Let me love. And though the black and white worlds of haters will always bring chaos, death, and suffering to the most innocent of the world, I continue to believe that my best response is to continue following after Jesus Christ, attempting in my sad and pathetically weak way to emulate His Love, His sacrificial displacing of Self for the Other.

Five years later, that remains the only real lesson I can find from the terrible tragedy of 9/11.

1 comment:

Colin Lamm said...

Thank you from one who experienced very similar emotions, and thoughts, both then and now. It still stands (in many ways inexplicably so) that ". . . the greatest of these is love."