So, its been 14 years since THE 9/11—another date when everything changed forever—like 11/22/63 and 12/7/41—dates that will forever live in infamy, and two other days when our nation’s innocence changed forever.
Yesterday and today Facebook has been rife with 9/11 memorials. Like some societal PTSD it seems to get more and more embedded in our subconscious as time passes. “NEVER FORGET” we’re told, as if there was ever much chance of that occurring. And today has been officially designated as Patriot Day. I’m not sure what 9/11 has to do with patriotism—except that patriotism was designated by Samuel Johnson as “the last refuge of a scoundrel.” And our nation seems to have taken that course at times.
For me, 9/11 wrought several very disturbing changes.
For one, there are those who seem to relish the offense. For them it’s a way to marshal their sense of outrage and ultimately to discharge their anger—lets stay pissed at Muslims, Arabs and pretty much any brown-skinned foreigners—because don’tcha know there are terrorists flooding across our southern border along with the Mexicans and Central Americans. They’re here to steal the goodies that we worked so hard. . . err inherited.
For another, it feels like we’ve morphed into a nation of wimps. The Great Depression and WWII brought forth the “Greatest Generation” according to Tom Brokaw. I was born during the latter of those national traumas and heard about the other pretty much every day growing up. It was part of my consciousness and that of pretty much everyone born during the 1940s and 50s. Our childhoods were during an era when the national ethos was a bit hard, somewhat tough-minded. Tough times create tough people—survivors. For the Millennials “survivors” has everything to do with reality shows, and not “reality” as a thing in itself.
I was listening to some conservative talk-radio the other day—maybe Rush or maybe Prager or Medved— and the host was talking about some university, Berkeley or Stanford, having designated “safe spaces” for those who might be traumatized by some right-winger making a speech on campus—tender mind and ears unable to bear the reality. So the school was providing them a place to go for comfort. No, I’m afraid it wasn’t satire. The young people at our best universities have been so indoctrinated by left-wing nonsense that hearing about the real world becomes traumatizing “hate speech.”
I wrote a chapter titled “The Post-9/11 Blues” in my book Jesus v. satan: The Message of the Wilderness Temptations. It was in the Temptation of Trust section:
“We stumble thru a post-9/11 haze where the new farewell is “stay safe!” Soccer Mom has morphed into security mom, and every child has to be armed with a cell phone for both their safety and constant monitoring by mom.
“President Bush saw his primary role as keeping us safe and he sang the mantra of national security in establishing our very own gulag at Guantanamo Bay and at other secret facilities in other countries not so squeamish about human rights and torture. He played on the same fear when he tricked even those who should know better into going to war under the pretext of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.”
9/11 birthed a whole new “stay safe” bureaucracy in the Department of Homeland Security. Yes, some changes in airport security were definitely warranted but did we really need a whole new department? Bush, and now Obama, have both used the pretext of national security to overstep executive authority—Bush in waging war and Obama in internal surveillance.
I believe that our preoccupation with staying safe is another trick of the devil. What biblical characters ever played it safe? Against all odds they advanced in the face of the enemy. Abraham and Moses risked it all when they sought the Promised Land, and eleven out of the twelve apostles Jesus selected died as martyrs. No playing it safe there either.
In 1961, JFK challenged us to place a man on the moon by the end of the decade and he said we should do such things not because they were easy but because they were difficult. Given today’s ethos of safety we would have established 1999 as a date for placing a man on the moon—about 30 years too late.
Beyond our impressive natural resources our nation’s greatest strength has been that we had more praying, God-fearing, generous people than anywhere else on earth. Our strength was our trust in a Divine Creator and a national ethos that we were a nation chosen by God to be a force for good in the world. I fear that is no longer the case. We have become a much more selfish, secular nation and one preoccupied with our own comfort and security.
And in my own life, my best achievements took place only after I risked stepping out of my rather narrow comfort zone. . . and trusted God. In 2002, after over 30 years of being grounded, I started flying again. I stepped out of my comfort zone, faced my fear of lack of control and trusted God. That act of trust enabled dozens of flights, six mission trips and a ministry of sorts around the books I’ve written since 2002.