The Enemy Within
Where were you when the world stopped turning seems almost like a cliché these days. But with the anniversary of what most would agree was the worst day in the history of the United States coming tomorrow, it is a thought provoking question.
Time passes and things change, people leave us and new lives are born and the proverbial circle of life continues on, still, can we take a minute to pause and reflect on that day.
It is hard to imagine that babies who were in their cribs that day are now high school graduates. My children, who were all less than 10 years old on that tragic day, are adults now.
So, the question is, where were you that day?
It is a question that has been asked often since the day our country was changed forever. At least I think it was. I know myself that September 11, 2001 was the first time that the stories my grandfather used to tell me came true, and it changed the way me, and lots of others think.
My grandfather was a firm believer in the theory that the United States would one day be overthrown from the inside. He told me over and over that this country that seemed so strong, was not as strong as we believed.
On September 11, 2001 a lot of things happened. No longer were the days that we believed lives would never be lost on our home soil. No longer did we believe we were impervious to attack. Gone were the thoughts that we were the big boys on the block and nobody would ever mess with us.
Still, in the midst of all the fear, tears and sadness, something grew.
In the minutes, hours and days that followed the falling of the Twin Towers, the United States of America became truly just that, united. There was a patriotism and unity of spirit that had likely not been felt since the days after Pearl Harbor.
We came together. There was no sign of color, race, wealthy and poor, there were just Americans. The flag flew everywhere. People lined up for blocks to donate blood. Volunteers rushed to NYC just to see if there was anything they could do. Perfect strangers became brothers and sisters for life. Bonds were formed.
How is it possible in just 18 years that we have once again become splintered, bitter, divided and hateful? How is it that instead of that flag flying everywhere, it is now burned in protest and our national anthem is used to make a statement instead of being a symbol of pride and heritage?
Maybe the question should not be where were you that day, but rather, where are you now?
Last night I was struck speechless by a TV commercial. It was a promo for an upcoming broadcast that was to make an issue of gun control, to be aired on the anniversary of the day when thousands of Americans lost their lives, without a single gunshot being fired.
The very thought that we have come so far left me with a thousand questions.
How is it in America today that we have forgotten the unity of 2001 and instead are subjected to daily news briefs of another active shooter, another child abduction, or another vehicle driven into a crowd? How is it that we who are adults now and were then have forgotten the feelings we felt that day as we sat in tears staring at our television screens as the towers fell, the Pentagon burned, and a plane went down in Pennsylvania?
Forget where you were that day. Think instead where you are today. What are we doing to make our world a better place? Are we using this precious time we have on Earth to be better people, do better things, think better thoughts and dream better dreams? Are we sharing what we have, sharing what we will have, and sharing the love of God? Do we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give our coat to the one who has none, and walking that second mile of the way?
The answer for most is sadly, no.
Instead we fight for more red or blue states, fight over denominational differences, and even fight within our own churches. We have become the haughty, proud, selfish nation that my grandfather told me we would become, allowing the enemy to walk in and take us from within.
If anything is to be remembered this year about 9/11 it isn’t the enemy from without, it is the enemy within. I want to feel the pride and unity that we all felt after those towers fell. I want us to remember not where we were that morning, but where will we be tomorrow morning.
Where we will all be tomorrow is up to all of us. 2 Chronicles 7:14 lays it out for us, but we have let those words become cliché too. We might want to fix that.