It doesn’t matter how many years go by, September 11th or 9/11 will always bring one memory to my mind before all others. It is like a door I have to walk through to get to any other thoughts about the day, or a scar that I have to feel before moving on. The terrorist events of September 11, 2001 have created a lens through which I see many things now. It wasn’t there September 10th, but it’s there now.
So much of life has changed in these United States since then. We almost take for granted the hoops we must jump through to take a flight, to go to an outdoor event, to travel out of the country, etc. Our paradigms have shifted; changed. (paradigm: a typical example or pattern of something; a model). Like an injury that changes the way we walk from now on, like eyes or ears that break down through the years, we see and hear things differently because of that event and all events we experience…it could be argued we are constructed by trauma and scars to be who we are.
I can look back and see that many decisions made by my parents were because they lived through the GREAT DEPRESSION, and their own 9/11 experience: December 7, 1941.
There is more fear in the world I live in, more suspicion. And my paradigm affects the way I, as a Believer & Follower of Jesus, see the world. And then, I ask the question: “Are the lenses of JESUS’ worldview unrealistic?” When Jesus teaches love as the key to the Kingdom; love for Him, love for my neighbor, and especially love for my enemies – is He speaking of how I should truly see the world, or only of how the world should be?
Arguably, nothing scarred, marked, and changed the Jewish nation as much as the destruction of Jerusalem and The Temple. This one event changed their laws, their traditions, and their lives. By the time JESUS took His place and time as human, in their world, The Temple and city was rebuilt, but held in thrall by ROME. They lived under a most oppressive government that allowed, but sneered at, their religion and way of life. And what did Jesus do? What did He say about that all?
First: He didn’t ignore tragedy.
He used the tragedies of the day, the oppression of Rome, the misguided hatred of the Church Leadership and locals (to Rome and Gentiles in general) as pictures of life, set against the life in THE KINGDOM.
Second: He reminded everyone about the sacredness of ALL PEOPLE.
In fact, many times He told illustrative stories using their “enemies” as the heroes and examples of Godliness in the illustration – reminding all that ALL PEOPLE are His Father’s greatest creation, even if they don’t look or behave like you. He reminds us that turning “individuals” into a “group” or “category” and not seeing them as single hearts and souls is to lift yourself up as “better than those” – and that is wrong.
Third: He, and the Apostle Paul, remind us that in this place and time there will be trouble, it is a reality – none of that trouble defines us…but it DOES make us stronger.
Jesus: “…in this time and place (world) there will be trouble, but don’t be afraid, I have overcome this time and place (world).” – JOHN 16:33
Paul: “…we also are incredibly happy in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope…” ROMANS 5:3-5
When tragedy strikes, a tragedy that changes our world and the way we see it, we should become “wiser in the ways of the world”, but not cynical to the reality of the Kingdom of God. And we should remember the end of the story, the end of “history”: JESUS wins, as does love.
I look at every person, every large event, every trip, every tall building, and every jet, through eyes that have been scarred by the events of 9/11…and will, for the rest of my life. But should I let those “scars” harden me…or should I thank my Heavenly Father that evil exists only for a time, and FAITH, HOPE & LOVE last forever…”and the greatest of these is love.” ?
I don’t know what YOU will decide when you see the world through your own paradigm of tragedy and loss…but as for me, I will choose to learn from those things, to “carry Jesus” with me in the situations where I can help…and to focus my vision beyond this time and place to the shores of the Age-To-Come where my Daddy “…will wipe away every tear from my eyes.” (REV 21:4)
Let’s never forget the innocent, the heroes, the helpers and our enemies…who lost their lives in 9/11. And let’s look beyond that place to the One who has overcome the world.
Some years ago I was commissioned to write a Symphonic/Choral REQUIEM to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. Here is a piece from that, sung by a voice representing all the families, and specifically spouses, left behind after the tragedy. It is called, “REST & LIGHT”.