Today in 2001, two planes flew into the New York World Trade Center’s twin towers bringing them down in a horrific loss of life. Shortly there after another plane crashed into the Pentagon – the headquarters of the US Department of Defense housing the Army, Navy, and Air Force. A fourth plane never made it to the hijacker’s target as the passengers and crew fought and crashed the plane in a field in Pennsylvania. I remember where I was, what I was doing, and my complete disbelief. For many that day will be etched in their minds and on their hearts for the rest of their lives. And for more and more people it is just a foot note in the history books. All or most of the college freshmen were not yet born. In fact I doubt that any of the undergraduates were old enough to really remember the events.
To be fair, we had not appreciated the desperate nature of the terrorists. We as a nation hadn’t considered that civilian lives were at stake. And even more shocking was the reaction and placing of blame. The hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Egypt. They all claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda. Suddenly, instead of putting blame on the actual people involved in the hijackings and crashes, an entire religion was held responsible. I have friends who are Muslim. And just like Christians, they come from countries all over the world. The subsequent vilifying of all Muslims was the prelude to the invasion of Iraq. The US administration on many occasions alluded to Iraq’s support of terrorism and al-Qaeda as a reason to invade that country. I remember hearing President Bush addressing the nation and saying that “weapons of mass destruction” were being built and stock piled in Iraq and would inevitably end up in the hands of al-Qaeda if we didn’t get to them first. The resultant invasion and subsequent military occupation never did reveal any weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, was found and tried and eventually executed. The US was at first hailed as liberators and then hated as a foreign occupier. The area was destabilized but the oil flowed freely for many years until the troops were finally withdrawn.
And here we are today. Trying to remember the lives lost, the people whose livelihoods were destroyed, and the heroes who selflessly ran toward the danger instead of away. There are many who recall the devastation in New York City. They replay the news footage and read the list of names of the innocent and first responders who perished. I remember the series of phone calls that passengers on Flight 93 made to their family and loved ones. Then they stormed the cockpit and the hijackers crashed the plane killing everyone on board.
They sacrificed their lives to save unknown others. That is what I want to believe America is all about. I want to be the America that unites, defends the helpless, helps their neighbors (and you all know how Jesus defined neighbors), and was willing to put others before self, and before money. I want to go back to when corporations were not people and people were the church. I want to go forward still believing and then making it better – eliminating the racism and violence, removing the bad police and holding the police responsible for crimes and deaths of innocent people. I want gun control. Yes, control but that is not taking away all your guns. It means that violent felons, the mentally unstable, those under age cannot buy or own guns. It requires registration and a gun safety course completion. I want an end to abortion but not to eliminate the safe and medically performed option. Instead I want the reasons that women feel the only way out is to kill their unborn child to be eliminated so that abortion doesn’t even come into the equation. That means easy access to effective birth control, educational and financial support for pregnant women, mandatory responsibility by the biological father, safe means without repercussions to surrender a new born, a system to care for relinquished children (that is more than a warehouse/prison for children whose only “crime” is not having a family). It means supporting families with affordable childcare, paid maternity and paternity leaves, affordable medical insurance and affordable medical care. Supporting families means a living wage, education that doesn’t saddle students with crushing debt. It means the ability to secure a decent home or apartment… I’ve ranted enough. We are 54 days until the election. You know what you need to do. If you are not registered to vote DO IT NOW! And when the day comes – vote. Just do it!