The Last Post – 10 Years After 9/11
The enormity of what happened still overwhelms me.
Still, even after all the endless commentary and analysis, arguments, memorials, and retrospectives I find it difficult to express how the events of that day, and even more, the developments in the subsequent decade, have shaped me. But I know that I am different. I know that this country is different.
I know this country was wounded on that day, and has not fully recovered.
Three thousand dead. More than Pearl Harbor.
Yet some would try to assert that it was never that big of a deal. That we should get over it. Even worse, that it is our first duty to God, conscience and Country to consider what faults of ours are responsible for this monstrous evil act of destruction, and to apologize as if ultimately we are to blame.
I will have none of it. None of it.
We are not perfect.
We as a nation, did not deserve this.
It continues to astound me that this has ever been an issue. Yet it is to this day.
The enormity of this divide, of this horrific fundamental chasm between values and worldviews between Americans weighs on me. I have come to accept it to a degree, and to learn from it where I can and occasionally grow from it, but it has left me mostly resigned to irreconcilable differences.
Hardly a satisfactory end.
The worst thing has been the loss of respect and affection for friends I once admired for their wisdom.
The next worst thing- or is it the worst? – is the loss of respect and affection in return. I’m not proud enough to say I don’t want their respect and affection back. I do want it back. But not at the cost of denying the Truth. I’m sure some of them feel the same way in reverse.
One of my core principles, which I have learned to appreciate via the wisdom of Dennis Prager, is to value clarity over agreement. It seems a simple proposition, but even this simple task has seemed to be too much as clarity has been to often obscured by spin, personal attacks, phoniness and talking points. Why this is the case remains a mystery to me, but the thesis that there is a high degree of motivation to keep the true nature of the disagreement out of the discussion seems a likely one, even if unintentional.
The undeniable fact of the matter is this: our response to 9/11 as a nation has, except for the few weeks following the attacks, been an exercise in disunity.
It was a gash on the national psyche, yet it revealed our differences as much as it has provided cause for them.
It is also unfinished business, that is, it remains ongoing.
Osama Bin Ladin is dead. That is a good thing, but it is certainly no VE Day. Even worse, the post-modern nature of this enemy- no nations, no uniformed armies involved – means that there will likely never be closure. Things may wind down in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there will never be a treaty, a parade, a proper homecoming. Therefore achieving true closure will be almost impossible. We will have to settle for something else.
The undeniable fact is this: our nation has suffered from this act of evil. We have gone through a national trauma together. We will each heal from it or just move on from it in different ways.
Most people seem to be going for some kind of denial, a hardening of the heart, and most importantly, a big dose of sentimentality- an American favorite. What I don’t see a lot of is the naming of this act as evil.
Why would this be? Most likely the reason is to name it as evil is to expect a response, a response that must go beyond sanctimonious declarations about the undesirability of war. Evil must be stopped. Evil must be fought. Too many are weary of this fact and want to avoid it, or insist that by understanding the enemy he will somehow cease wanting to kill us and therefore our duty to kill him first will be suspended. That “acts of Christian love” those that “seek to understand more than to be understood” will somehow carry the day.
Christian love and understanding are good things. But they are not the only things. There are nations with governments and armies and those things live and breathe and will act in the world. Policies will be made, orders given and executed, some by loving Christians, some not. I would hate to put all those things in such stark opposition. You would think sometimes from our lazy pronouncements we believe that to be the case. It is not. Neither are they in perfect harmony. The whole business of justice and peace is messy and broken start to finish. Yet it must be attempted with courage, valor and humility if the innocent are to be protected. Superior firepower and information helps too.
This was a good day for me. It started rough, but I have had much prayer for me today as well as some good discussion.
It was an intimate day. Beneath the tension and sadness we really do care for one another. We struggle to understand each other– well some more than others– but I think everyone believes on some level that things should be better than they are today. And maybe someday they will.
I talked to my children today about the events of ten years ago. We had an illustrated book, but didn’t really read it. I just used it to explain to them why there is a war and why we pray for soldiers over there. I thought they might get scared or sad, but they didn’t. I’m hoping that’s because they took cues from the Countess and I, but it’s probably because it’s still a little too far outside their understanding. That’s OK. The world’s more full of weeping than they can understand. Grown-ups are working to protect them now. That’s what they need to know.
I am officially ending this blog, with this persona, this voice and this purpose. I will continue to have lots to say and express, but it won’t be here.
I’m sorry we broke each others hearts here. I wish I could un-read and un-hear certain comments. I might have rephrased some things, I might have pursued some arguments in a different direction, I might have presented more of the information I’m really interested in if I had the time. Too many times I got sucked into events and forgot about he big picture. I regret all that, if only for the fact that I myself may wish it had been written down here for me to look at later.
I feel at peace. It’s time to move on.