Yesterday was a day to remember. Sept 11th will always be day to remember. But what exactly are we remembering and what do we often forget to remember? And what do we do with what we remember? If we only remember the historical event-pictures,video,names and faces and actions/reactions -we are simply historians. If we remember only the pain and anger, the shock and sorrow, we are simply grieving. If we act in revenge and hatred, reacting against real and perceived enemies, we are in danger of simply continuing a cycle of violence that only breeds more violence, death and destruction.
We must remember more. Calling for justice is important, but calling for and contributing to healing is even better. And it extends around the world. We tend to think that war is the only real way to deal with problems we see in the world. We react to conflict instead of being proactive to diffuse situations that can lead to conflict. We pick sides instead of separating the sides and insisting that both sides sit down and talk. We look down on diplomacy as less manly,as giving in. I think sometimes we just like fighting too much.
Look at our dealings with Latin America. How many times over the past century-plus have we intervened in one country or other, always blaming outside forces - like the Soviets mostly - for the trouble? And we ignore the base issues - land distribution and discrimination both racially and economically - that are often fueling the conflict. We have supported many terrible leaders simply because they were "anti-communist" and enraged those they were oppressing.
Our actions in the Middle East have not been much better, fueled by a "stop the Soviets at any cost" mentality...and the effects have lingered far beyond the fall of the USSR. We have chosen sides instead of choosing the pursuit of peace and it has cost us nearly.
But the most important thing to remember is: Remember who we are. Remember what our values are, what makes us different from the extremists who value violence above all. Remember that we have a call to "seek peace and pursue it", a mandate to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", and a simple mantra "what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before thy God". Those are the high points of faith, not judgment and revenge.
As Americans we say we value freedom to speak, to worship, yet in these days many are denouncing and demonizing those who choose to worship differently. We take the crimes of a small deranged minority of one religion and use that to proclaim the whole religion and its followers guilty. And we proclaim that they must "prove" their innocence. This is unAmerican and hateful. This is contrary to all that we profess to believe.
Remember, yes I remember where I was and what I was doing when the towers got hit and when they fell, and I will never forget that. But more importantly I remember who I am , both as an American and as a believer in Christ, and I will never forget that either. This is a legacy of my parents that I strive to live out every day. This is who I am. Who are you? And what will you remember?