Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

It’s September 11– the anniversary of the infamous day eight years ago when terrorists hijacked planes and sent them crashing into the Twin Towers, causing so many to lose their lives. I remember the eerie silence on the campus of my college, before I learned what had happened. I remember seeing hundreds of students, arms linked, huddled around the TVs in the student center. I remember calling my dad to find out what in the world was going on, and his response that said gravely, “The whole world is going to hell”. I remember standing by in the ham radio shack just in case I needed to pass along any emergency messages, and standing in line at the blood bank to give the only thing I had that might matter. And I remember thinking, “My God, My God…why have you forsaken us?”, which was followed closely by, “Are you testing my commitment?” Because it was only two days before that I had experienced a very definite call to ministry– and finally had the courage to say yes to God’s most ridiculous proposal.

And eight years later–where have we progressed? We’ve passed all sorts of legislation that, while we are told keeps us safe, inhibits our freedoms. We’ve confidently shouted, “God bless America”, and though we would never say it out loud, we’ve secretly thought “Bless us, not them.” We’ve watched the churches flooded with folks who just needed something to believe in, and we’ve watched these same folks leave because We’ve plastered bumper stickers that say, “Never Forget” on anything that would stand still. We’ve cheered as Toby Keith sang,
Oh, justice will be served and the battle will rage:
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage.
An’ you’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A.
‘Cos we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.

Hey, Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly and it’s gonna be hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell.
And it’ll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you.
Ah, brought to you, courtesy of the red, white and blue.

And oh, yeah… we’ve made the rest of the world think that all we care about is “putting a boot in your ass”. I was given strict instructions not to tell anyone I was American during the summer I spent in Kenya because that sentiment was still rampant a few years after 9/11.

I sit here and I think, maybe we’ve gone in the wrong direction. In a time when we should be seeking more freedom, we’ve settled for less. We’ve allowed ourselves to become slaves to fear and hatred. We’ve convinced ourselves that a whole race of people is our enemy, despite the fact that only a few were responsible for the destruction of that day. (Tell me that the air doesn’t tense when a person who looks like they might be from the Middle East gets on your plane.)

Today, as I did eight years ago, and as I have on every anniversary since, I weep. I weep for those that lost their lives, for those that lost their faith, for those who lost any tolerance of people with “other” beliefs. I weep for the ways that we allow fear and hatred to control the decisions we make.

I’m a Presbyterian, and the way I usually pray the Lord’s prayer is “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Today, though, my prayer is “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”


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