Shock and Amazement
(a 9/11 Message)

This morning it is 9/11. Five years ago today, the World Trade Center Towers were reduced to ash and too many families experienced the agony of grief. Many people who woke up to enter “normal routines” that morning no longer physically lived by sunset. The lives of many were forever altered that day.

I suspect most, if not all of us adults, clearly remember where we were that morning as those events unfolded. I am sure that many of us easily remember the shock and amazement of that day. After all, we are the benevolent, kind-hearted good guys—how could anyone, anywhere hate us that much? What did any of those people do to deserve a horrific end? How could anyone think those families deserved such horrible suffering?

We were suddenly and horribly introduced to some harsh realities about the views of some people toward Americans. (May I quickly add not everyone hates us! We need to constantly remember that! It is just as unjust to stereotype others as it is for others to stereotype us!) Yet, we must ask, “Why do some find it easy to hate us?”

1. People who have nothing, who live in unimaginable poverty without any hope of escaping it, often resent us for having so much.

2. People who have little opportunity often resent the too common American mindset that thinks the rest of the world exists to support the American lifestyle.

3. Many people do not like the moral values of our culture, and see American values as a threat to their values. (Do we not fear some of those values?)

4. Often other people’s perception of Americans is shaped more by movie exploits and TV images than real life in this nation.

Perhaps that day what naivety remained in the American people became a fearful skepticism. There was a time when we as a people were more likely to think good of others rather than bad. No longer. Now naïve innocence has transformed into a hardened cynicism. Instead of thinking the best of people as our first thought, we too commonly think the worst of people as our first thought.

In this tragedy there is also enormous opportunity. If ever there was a time when we could demonstrate the beauty of Christian peace in God’s family, now is the time. However, we must understand the importance of living at peace among ourselves before we can project the image of peace to a fragmented world. That requires both courage and understanding. Is not faith in Jesus Christ the essence of courage and understanding? The issue is quite personal for all of us: “Do I seek that courage and understanding?”

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 14 September,  2006

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