Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11: Terrorists--Your Mission Failed

I wasn't blogging in 2001. I wasn't blogging or watching the news on September 11, 2001. I was driving my four year old to his second day of pre-school. I was in my head with a myriad of motherly worries.

As I left the school, a few teachers huddled anxiously. What was going on? A plane flew through the Twin Tower! It had to be a mistake. The building was on fire. The people feared dead. What about the people in the building? A bomb? Terrorists? Information was sketchy.

Should I take my son right back home?

I called my mom on the phone. She had cable, I didn't. Terrorism, they think. No, if this was terrorism, I thought, screw them. I'm not changing my life. My son would be safe at school. I promptly went to my mom's house.

With my little girl in my arms I climbed the stairs my mind whirling. Two minutes into the living room, the tower came down. I sunk to my knees and started crying.

Only a few years before I had been in the Tower, gone to the top in the elevator with some French teenagers who were commenting about the hot guy. Little did they know I knew what they were saying. I smiled. We're not all that different.

The view from the top blew me away. New York in every direction. The Hudson. New Jersey. I got that dizzy feeling of being able to reach out and touch the sky and fall off. Edges make me nervous. It wasn't long before I was urging us downward.

New York. I love New York. You can't really get America until you visit New York City. The same goes for a typical little Mid-Western town. America is defined by it's extremes and the people who inhabit both. New York is an extreme experience. Energy, activity, purpose, brusque, busy, and filled with intense people. Once you've inhaled New York into your consciousness, that's it. You're hooked.

Watching the Towers fall again and again, my rage building with every fiery blast, I wondered who could do this. In the days and months following we found out.

We also found out what America is still made of. The details of Flight 93 emerged. Their phone messages to their families (detailed by Peggy Noonan) immortalizing their grace. Their democratic vote for certain suicide to save their fellow man from even worse destruction immortalizing the power of choice.

Riveting stories shared heroism by common New Yorkers like the guy who lead people down the stairs to safety. The hope and determination that fueled the New York Fire Department to continue looking for survivors after losing so many of their own inspired everyone to keep going. The merchants in Chinatown who cleaned up, cleared out the debris and set up shop again helped reestablish a sense of normalcy.

This resilient, multi-colored portrait of America offends some. Our very existence proof that attempts at peaceful coexistence among beliefs and cultures and races and religions is possible. The answer? Destroy it. That way, no one can feel bad because their belief system creates poverty, hopelessness and despair.

It didn't work. Bringing down the two Towers symbolizing America's wealth and power destroyed two big buildings and kill people, yes. It didn't destroy what made America, America.

Terrorists make a fatal mistake when they believe America's strength is in it's engineering or mechanical or technological prowess or money or art or any one person or any president or any thing.

America's strength is belief in God, but the God American's worship is not the same God of Islamofascists. Americans believe in a forgiving God. American's believe that God sees all and is in all. American's believe that God created them with free will.

Americans believe that we are free to not believe. That to a radical Muslim is heresy. To a Fundamentalist Christian, it is also heresy. The difference? It is not a Christian's job to answer to God for another's path. Free. Will.

The travelers on Flight 93, the NYFD, the common citizens, and Americans everywhere chose life anyway. Watching the maturing children left orphans or fatherless or motherless after 9/11 speak of choosing love and choosing life made me think: Terrorists, you lose.

Five years later, what have terrorists gained?

Nothing. Burn a building. Slit a throat. Kidnap a soldier. Crash a plane. They cannot destroy a person's free will. That must be given away, sold, left behind or lost to fear.

I John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear." Love of life. Love for family. Loving God. Love country. There is no room for fear here.

Hate is a powerful emotion. Fear is a powerful emotion. Love trumps hate and fear every time.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. What weapon can destroy these things? None exists.

So today on the Anniversary of 9/11, I've already cried my tears and mourned for the lives lost. I've already felt the anger roil. Now, I'm listening to Stevie Wonder sing "Isn't She Lovely"? I'm dancing joyously with my toddler son. I will allow myself to get caught up in the exuberance and thrill at new life embodied in Wonder's harmonica. I love America. Isn't she lovely?

Terrorists: Your mission failed.

1 comment:

Antoinette said...

Terrorists gained quite a lot, a free pass for Islamic extremists throughout Europe to riot and murder. A rapid spread of anti-semitism and the refusal, from Paris to Seattle, to call any attack against Jews a hate crime. Here is Mark Steyn on how much the terrorists have gained: "Five years on, European airports deny Israeli flights from the U.S. refueling rights just in case they happen to be carrying ammunition that might possibly wind up getting used against Hamas and Hezbollah. In France, Jews are physically assaulted. In Britain, cemeteries are desecrated. In Montreal, a Jewish school is firebombed. The dead of 9/11 seem to have served as a license renewal for the world’s oldest hatred. "