Patriot Day, September 11, 2014

(Today, I break from the pattern of theological discussion and share a post I composed for social media. I remain sensitive to the losses of the 9/11 attacks. But I believe we must use that fire to temper the steel of our resolve, and be stronger and more united than before.)

Rough night. I awoke to a thunderstorm a little after 3 a.m., yesterday’s indignity and near misapplication of justice still playing through my head. But then my puny concerns are irrelevant compared to the realization that today is an anniversary of one of the darkest days in US history. As I fired up my browser, the headlines on my homepage were much the same: sleeping kittens, celebrity fashions, inane blather about nothing. Maybe those headlines that force us to look back will come later.

As I consider the social and political landscape of the recent past, I compare it to the weeks and months after 9/11. That was the only time in my memory that people in this country were Americans first, and something else political or ethnic or social somewhere down the line. It is sad that it took a tragedy for us to come together as much as we did for as long or short as we did. But memory is short, and egos and political aspirations and machinations have long shelf lives, and we soon forgot that brief moment of unity, born of pain though it may have been. We are constantly assailed by the yellow journalism of the politics of outrage from both right and left. It should not be so.

As I think about where we are today, I see a nation where corporations are people, but too many real people are forgotten, much as the victims of 9/11 have begun to fade into little more than the fabric of time and history. The evil that brought about those attacks has matured and evolved and spawned more evil. It has been wounded, but much like severing the hydra’s head resulted in two more growing back, the threat is multiplying with each ineffectual stroke.

It should not take the reading of a list of martyred victims and sacrificed heroes to make us remember who we are, put politics aside and come together as one people to rebuild the vast nobility that is our birthright.

Those who seek to harm us have never tasted liberty. It is as fine a wine today as when it was made. But politics as usual makes it bitter. Putting profit before people turns its sweet complexity to vinegar. Fighting amongst ourselves spills that special vintage and wastes it.

Not only on this day, this Patriot Day, but every day, we should remember who we are and remember the words that open the greatest government charter ever crafted: “We the people….” Let us stop pointing fingers at our neighbors and hold out our hands in peace and brotherhood. Let us live up to our creed, “that all men are created equal.” As we pledge allegiance to the flag of this country, the words come easy when we in unison recite, “…and justice for all,” but the understanding and application are far from fruition. It is not too late to make that a reality.

This day should not be one of mourning only, although we must never forget. It should be a day of resolve, when we consciously revisit the hope and promise of this nation. We are a nation of immigrants, the fiber of ethnic pride strong among our many strands. But those fibers must be united into a many-fold cord that is not easily broken. No matter the variety of each individual heritage, we have a common heritage as Americans, a people of promise and privilege. Be proud. Be united. Be free.

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