Friday, September 11, 2009

A Day of Remembering and Repenting

I know that I said I was going away, but I posted this on my FaceBook today, and I think it has relevance to the reason for this blog, so I repost it here:

Today is the anniversary of a series of horrible events. It marks the eighth anniversary of the deaths (and injuries) of thousands in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. The victims of the crashes should be remembered -- and as the Orthodox say, may their memories be eternal.

But those were not the only victims of that horrifying day. Truth was a casualty that day: Need I mention "weapons of mass destruction" or the "connection" between Al-Qaeda and Sadam Hussein or the political manipulation of threat code-colors or the denunciation of non-existent "death panels"? And how about "liberal" commitment: How many supposed liberals and non-violent Christians found themselves shouting for the bombing of Afghanistan, because "they" (who? "they!") bombed us first. (Scott Simon, of NPR fame and infamy, opened my eyes with his threatened-masculinity tirade in the Wall Street Journal, saying, in essence, "What? We should just take it? Of course not. We have to kill in return -- and it doesn't matter whom.")

And democracy in this country may have suffered a mortal wound: As Ben Franklin wisely noted, "The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either." Nevertheless, in our USAmerican eagerness to forget the past, we stifled dissent -- calling it "treason" and "anti-American" -- even as we institutionalized racial profiling, denied basic human rights with policies of rendition and Guantanamoization, suspended basic First Amendment guarantees (for citizens, mind you) with the notorious and ironically titled "Patriot Act."

Decades ago, Soviet Premier Nikitia Khruschev uttered his (mistranslated) "We will bury you" judgment on the USAmerican future. Of course, the non-critical listeners and thinkers took that to be a military threat, even though it was obvious that he meant that they would survive while we rotted from within. Well, the USSR didn't fare very well in its authoritarianism (although arguably the Russian Soviet Republic is back and holding out). But is seems clear that there was a prophet's wisdom in his pronouncement. We find ourselves in an environment of decivilization (at many levels from Abu Graiib to booing the President in a session of Congress and calling him out as liar to shouting down opponents at "town meetings).

It's easy to say that we lost something precious that day eight years ago -- some have stupidly said that it was our "innocence" we lost. But no, we lost something deeper: We lost lots of dear lives -- but we continue to lose hundreds and thousands of dear lives, only now we don't wear our hearts on our sleeves because they're soldiers and "collateral damage." We lost our heart. Supposedly, we woke up to realize that we could be "hit" on our home ground -- though of course, Timothy McVey had taught us that in Oklahoma City, and we didn't rush wholesale against the fundamentalist-Christian-m
ilitarist-libertarian-racist crowd. We lost our sense -- or reality and of fair play. Did we lose our sense of security? No, we lost our conviction that a democratic structure for truth, liberty, equality, and fair-play can perdure even in the face of threats from those who, in the service of whatever agenda, seek to subvert that structure. We lost our integrity.

And perhaps most sadly of all, the Christian Church in this country lost its faith. We did not and do not pray for our enemies; we did not and do not stand up for the thousands of innocent victims who are massacred (much as were the Twin Towers victims massacred) in the name of American interest or self-preservation. We did not and do not affirm HOPE -- not "wishes and dreams" kind of hoping, but the the firm conviction that just a God raised Jesus from the dead after his Son's life of faithfulness and dedication to his truth, so He will sustain us and, if death it be, raise us up. We have once again committed ourselves to the worship of Molokh, even as we entertain ourselves for an hour on Sundays with bread and circuses.

I wish it were some of this that would cause sadness among USAmericans today and make of this a Yom Kippur instead of a day of licking festering (and in many cases, self-inflicted) wounds.

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