Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering What Really Matters

Seven years. There is something oddly holy and more transcendent about that number than the ones that have come before. Some of you have received an email from me on this day for the last six years, and for others of you this is the first such email of mine that has crossed your path. Whatever the case, I believe that there is value in me taking a few minutes to reflect on the significance of what this day should mean. 

September 11 was a significant day in the history of our country. Many people (including myself) have compared 9/11 to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in terms of the surprise, devastation, and shock that affected our country. But there is more than just the pain and destruction of that day that is worthy of note. It was a day of hope and of the common man making a difference and showing love and compassion. Like the attacks on Pearl in 1941, the terrorist action on 9/11 proved to be a catalyst for simple common individuals to step up and make a difference in the lives of other people. While it is important to think of the big picture as well, today I want to focus on the individual moments.

It is those little moments that live forever in our memories. 9/11 is already just another page in a history textbook for many grade school students. There isn't a child in my Mom's class who was even born when the attack happened. For most of us it is only a distant memory, akin to Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination, or a myriad of other significant causes of death and mourning in our country's history. But at the same time, the moments are still with us. Watching the movie with Nicholas Cage portraying the heroic police officer who was willing to give his life to save those in need, seeing a picture on the internet, or hearing the story of someone who was there can all bring something back and give us pause. This morning I listened to the world trade center tribute set to the music of Enya in her song "Only Time" and it made me remember that day very clearly. It is the only day of my entire life that I have intentionally ditched school and just not gone to a class. It was a significant day.

So remember 9/11 today. Take a moment and stop and remember the significance of that day. Say a prayer for the thousands of lives that are still attempting to recover from the sudden ravishing of seven years ago. And then expand your prayer. Think of the 30,000 children that will die today from stupid preventable poverty and hunger related illness. Think of the thousands of people whose lives have been destroyed by flood, fire, and famine. We are a blessed people who have been given a task by our God in Heaven to bless the world we live in. So lets remember what really matters and seek to love each other and advance God's kingdom in the world rather than just being focused on ourselves.

This is an important season for our country. We will soon be facing one of the most significant presidential elections in American history. It is a big deal and our future will look very different depending on what happens in that election. But as we think about who to vote for and listen to the rhetoric of both candidates, lets think beyond simply our own personal needs and think about what we should do as citizens of God's kingdom. I don't really care if you profess to follow God or not. I don't really care if you show up in a church building somewhere on Sunday mornings or not. I do care if you think and operate out of a base of love and compassion. Lets be who God told us to be. Lets live out of love and fill each day with the kind of selfless loving sacrifice that we saw exhibited on 9/11. 

I hesitate to quote Edmund Burke because so many people do and I don't want to just seem like everyone else, but right now his oft quoted statement comes to mind...

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing

Frequent usage does not make it any less true. Evil will indeed prevail if the good stands by and watches. Don't watch. Don't wait. Be a part of the solution.