September 11, 2006

A brief pause

I usually like to keep things light around here, since I don't think anyone wants to read the internet equivalent of moaning and groaning. Plus, I prefer to keep my introspection just that, which is something that seems to be lost in our current attention-coveting culture.

For now, I'll go back five years, like a lot of people are doing today. Five years ago, I was sitting in chapel when the planes hit. At the end, we saw someone come up to the front and mention something about a plane crash. I remembered thinking it noteworthy, but not particularly important. After all, a plane had crashed into the White House a few years earlier.

A short time later, after filing out of the gym and making my way to lunch, I found out the truth. Janet and I sat transfixed on the television, trying to figure out what had happened. At this point, the towers were still standing, and the replays of the second crash looped over and over again. Eventually, my sandwich eaten, I headed off to Ethics class, knowing what the topic of discussion would be. I remember saying in class that the United States would go after whoever had perpetrated the crime. I didn't know that five years later, they would still be looking for some of them. Being at Messiah College, many of my classmates professed pacifism. I remember one classmate reading a now forgotten Bible verse that had very little application to the situation at hand. I think he's a BIC pastor now.

The days passed on after that. I don't remember a whole lot about that time in my life, at least as it pertains to the disaster. I grew up in Ohio, didn't know anyone killed in the disaster, and didn't really even know many people from New York City. I was probably more concerned with Analog Electronics and the upcoming wrestling season, which I think is the way it should have been. My life, and the lives of everyone else could do nothing but move forward. I watched the World Series, rooting for the Diamondbacks to beat the Yankees, just like I would have before September 11th. They displayed that torn flag, and the guy with big ears waddled out to sing "God Bless America" every night.

Lines in the airport got longer, every month brought some new seemingly asinine rule about something or other. Talking heads debated and made ridiculous claims about whatever talking heads discuss. Now, five years later, there still hasn't been another terrorist attack on the United States. Some have allegedly been thwarted, but no one has succeeded in causing catastrophe on such a scale. I doubt it's for lack of trying, so something the government is doing is working, at least to some degree.

Generosity poured out after the disaster, and for that, I'm sure the living victims are grateful. It was good to see people really trying to help. The only sour note, in my mind, is the large sums of money paid to the families of victims killed that day. What made them so deserving? Surely, people were murdered on September 10th or September 12th in New York as well. The losses felt by the families of those victims are just as painful as those who died in the attacks. I suppose there's no real answer to that question, as the government tried to throw money at a problem.

Here we sit, five years later, looking forward to see what is next. I feel pretty safe, to be honest. There are evil men and women out there looking to cause harm to people simply because they live in America, but I know that there are people looking out for me and the people I see every day. Frankly, the danger is no greater or less, in all likelihood, just our perception of it has changed. For better or worse, that's the world in which we live. The very technology that has made the world a smaller place has made it easier for those with cruel intentions to strike from afar. They'll try, but like I said in class five years ago today, someone will come looking for them.

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