How long would it take before we could get past the horrible tragedy that took place earlier this week, and return to business as usual? I had no idea, but I didn’t think it would only take a few days.
Events like these bring out the best in people; heroism, sacrifice, community, honor. Sadly, it also gives rise to the worst elements of our society, and with an event as awful and earth-shattering as this one, that seems doubly so. I know this post may seem incongruous with my previous one, but now is that most crucial of times. What we do now — our reactions, our statements, our deeds — determines where our nation ends up when this debacle is over. And some of the things that have occurred point to a pretty dark place indeed.
I’m talking about the hatred and dissension that’s started to appear throughout our nation. Although veiled as patriotism, it’s nothing more than the same hatred, cowardice, and zealotry responsible for Tuesday’s acts, only wrapped up in the Stars and Stripes to make it acceptable.
I may be wrong, but I fail to see the courage in trying to run over people because of their ethnicity. But some people are too cowardly, even for that, instead resorting to the Internet to spread their anger. It’s depressing to read about real heroism, and then see something like that. It’s spreading across the nation, propagated by media personalities and religious leaders, and even our allies aren’t immune to it.
But even our nation’s jihad against Osama bin Laden isn’t enough for Jerry Falwell. No, we have to go after those fanatical pagans, gays, lesbians, feminists, and abortionists as well. After all, it was their sin that brought the wrath of God against our nation (and not the money-grubbing televangelists, abortion clinic bombings, and Mathew Shepard protests). While Falwell later apologized for his comments, I still find such sentiment troubling. Aren’t foreign foes enough? Do we really have to search for enemies within our own borders, cities, and communities?
And while some sane voices can be heard, should we become as bloodthirsty as our attackers? Is bombing “the hell out of Afghanistan” really the best we can do? Such statements may be natural emotional outbursts, a way of showing our strength and determination to put things right, but I shudder to think that they represent national policy. If war comes (and it does seem inevitable), then it’s not something we should revel in, as if we’re Divine instruments of judgment. If that’s the case, we become the same blind butchers that our attackers were, whoever they may be.
Perhaps God is judging our nation. As a Christian, I am dismayed at some of the things that go on in this country. We have been blessed more than any other nation in the world in terms of prosperity, technology, and influence, and I have to admit that we’re rarely grateful for it. But we’ve been shown, graphically, that our wealth doesn’t separate us from the rest of the world’s turmoils.
Perhaps we have grown fat, lazy, and immoral. I don’t want to add hateful, cowardly, and bloodthirsty to that list. Now’s the time to start turning things around. Now’s the time to prove that we really are a better nation — not through jingoism, but through justice. And while some may see this whole thing as just more proof that there is no God, I can’t think of a better time to try and find Him.
Times like these tend to make me think that we’ll never get any better, as Americans and as human beings.
Please, please, please prove me wrong.