Random thoughts on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary...
The constant reruns of footage from the WTC brought back a lot of emotions. I remember the call from my wife, who was at her nursery school getting reports of something going on in NYC from the parents dropping off their kids. I was busy working at my home office, and had no outside media on. I flipped on the TV in time to hear Peter Jennings reduced to muttering "Oh, my God" as the first tower collapsed. I started working on emailing information and requests for prayer to the churches in our synod, and building a web site to collect reactions and prayers, because it was all I could think to do.
I was particularly moved by the unfolding tales of the heroism of the firefighters, NYPD and other emergency workers. As a volunteer firefighter and professional paramedic in a previous life, I knew what it was like to run the "wrong" way in a time of crisis. I understood the call to put personal safety aside to help others -- though, let's be clear, I had never been tested with anything like the challenge that faced the FDNY that day. For the first time in years I regretted letting my certifications lapse, and I had an intense desire to be part of the local crews that were heading toward New York in mutual aid. I don't think I ever felt more helpless.
Packing up the videos in our living room on Saturday I came across a tape I had made of a classic moment of television: Peter Jennings' Saturday morning special for kids done a few days after the attacks. The nation had found community during the preceding days through the shared experience of watching the attacks and their aftermath on TV. But this hour was healing for me, and an example of what media can be at its best. Jennings, who had been on-air almost constantly for days, sat on the floor with children talking about their fears, and their hopes. It was inspiring to see this important journalist, whose voice and eyes millions relied on, taking time to sit with children. Jennings, I recall, really cared about what the kids were experiencing. But more than that, he knew that being present with those children, and millions of kids (and their parents) across the country, was perhaps more important than the endless stream of raw facts, analyses and theories it was his job to communicate. It was incredibly cathartic to watch. I do miss Peter Jennings.
Views from the blog-world:
In a post titled "Remembering Sept. 10th," Ariah at Trying to follow offers an important perspective: "The evil of hunger claimed the lives of 40,000 children on 9/10 that did not need to die. They were little ones to whom belongs the kingdom. Their death was not due to the overt hatred and action of ones they would call their enemies. These children died because of the passive complacency of people they might even call friends. There is no monument built at which to lay flowers or say prayers on behalf of these victims. Their names are not remembered on this campus, for we did not know them personally."
In ...How then shall we live, Will Samson laments the road not taken in response to the attacks: "GK Chesterton once remarked, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried." To paraphrase and apply this lens to the American governmental response to September 11, a Christian response to the attacks of September 11 was not tried and found wanting; it was found difficult as a re-election platform and not tried. "
And from NPR:
On today's Speaking of Faith, Krista Tippett reprises 5 years of conversations with Muslims to ask what we have -- and haven't learned -- about this major faith. Several speakers talk about the non-extremist Islam, rooted in prayer and charity and action (not just belief). This quote from Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University is worth considering: "Now, there is the tendency in America to want to convert the world to our view — and not our long-term view, our view of the immediate moment, the absolutization of the transient. We have the tendency in this country to absolutize very, very transient fashions and ideas and so forth at the moment when we’re living it. And that’s why, today — I always said the 1950s is like pharaonic Egypt: it’s already long, long time past. Whereas many people are alive today were alive in 1950 and functioning. And so we want to convert the world not to what, let’s say, Andrew Jackson thought or Abraham Lincoln thought, or even Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton, but to what we consider right now."