Few will ever forget what they were doing on September 11th, 2001, when they first heard the news that the United States was under attack by radical Islamic jihadists using jet planes on kamikaze missions. Whether these acts were the embodiment of true Islam, the actions taken brought death and destruction. I certainly never will. It is hard to believe the events occurred sixteen years ago today.
I was in the hallway of the Highland North Elementary in Chesterville, Ohio. I was in the fourth grade. I had gone out into the hallway to get a drink after a math quiz. I came back into the classroom and the TVs were on and playing video of smoke billowing out of the first tower. I do not remember much after that. I know we went home early from school, I think?
What I remember most of all is how everything changed. I remember the fallout. I remember the increased security. I remember hearing stories of the towers and people losing loved ones. I remember the international debate over Iraq, terrorism, and WMD. These conversations still persist to this day.
In some ways, those events have sent our country down a rabbit hole of fear. They exist in the back of our minds as reminders of chaos. Our country has made decisions to protect our own and position ourselves against the world. In light of such maneuvers, we generally are more skeptical than hopeful. Narratives of us versus them subconsciously shape our actions.
Decisions that were made have simultaneously caused distrust in the government and blind loyalty.
To those who find this day detestable, I ask that you honor the first responders as an act of love.
To those who find this day as grounds for military action, I ask that you consider the long-term effects of reactionary might.
To those of you who are indifferent, I ask that you engage in the conversation.
To those of you who are leaning in, I ask that you keep pushing forward for reconciliation.
Our world is broken and in desperate need of hope, love, and real solutions. My hope and prayer are that the church act like a beacon of light for those real solutions. May we honor, seek the truth, engage, and persevere.