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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

To Shine That Much Brighter


It is said the Egyptians built with eternity in mind-- perhaps inspired by the Sphinx itself which is older than Egyptian civilization. It’s said also, that Caesar found Rome brick and clay, and left it marble. The Pyramids still stand, the Coliseum still stands, the Acropolis still stands, but the Twin Towers do not. We build to satisfy our egos, but we don’t build for posterity. In three thousand years, will there be anything left in America to exemplify the culture of our time? Will we leave a mark, or will others leave marks upon us?

It’s been said of one era or another, "these are evil times…" but times are neither good nor evil. Rather, it’s the hearts and minds of Men that shape the times which create pain and suffering enough for others to name these times evil. World War II saw evil times; Hitler’s Final Solution, America's own use of atomic weapons. There were evil times in Korea, and Vietnam, and the killing fields of Cambodia, but the times themselves were not evil. Again, it was the hearts and minds of Men. The times are not evil, Men are. Change the heart of a man and you can change the world.

But can any one man or woman change the world? Can any one Nation make a difference? While it’s true the United States has had a hand in inspiring and helping to shape today’s world, it’s also true there are those who have resisted this change, seeing in the U.S. a great evil; rather to be destroyed than emulated. They cry out that the west meddles in things that don’t concern it, that it forces its own ideals and belief system upon nations incapable of defending themselves against its unwelcome intrusion. The Taliban government of Afghanistan recently arrested several westerners for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity; an offense punishable by death. Not too long ago the Chinese used tanks against their own people in Tienanmen Square, simply because they wanted to be more like the West. U.S. companies push such products as cheeseburgers, Coca Cola, and ‘decadent’ television programming upon starving third world countries. They turn a blind eye to those who see these companies as intruders, not as business adventurers; but as subversive attacks upon the core values of nations which didn’t want or even care about Kentucky Fried Chicken, before Colonel Sanders stepped off the plane. "We’re just making money!" the West cries, but others see this as an attempt to weaken their culture and their sense of national pride. When the Pharaohs built the great pyramids it’s certain they never envisioned Burger King moving in next door. China is only now beginning to open its borders to the West. They need the money; they want the money, but how much does that Big Mac really cost? How much will it cost the West?

‘But the West is decadent! It has lost its moral center!’ Many who hate her call America a Christian nation, and in this they demonstrate their ignorance. Certainly the United States was founded on Christian principles, but those principles have eroded over the last three centuries. America today is but a dim shadow of what it once was. ‘Christian’ is a word bandied about by everyone; the Right, the Left; the Agnostic and Atheist alike, but less than ten percent of avowed Christians even put their faith into practice. The mind of this nation has changed, and Morality is now viewed subjectively at best; where once the people held to a belief in God, and right and wrong were seen as black and white issues, is it any wonder Christianity has fallen from grace? Every nation we thrust our interfering hands into can see the truth in this, so why can’t we? Could it be the Emperor has no clothes after all?

Times have changed, however. It no longer takes months on horseback to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Big Apple. It doesn’t take years for ships to circumnavigate the globe. Weapon of war have also changed. Where once armies faced one another with swords and knives and spears, they now face each other not at all; they simply make a call and push a button. Where once they rained arrows down upon enemy ranks, they now rain devastation from the skies, leveling whole cities. War has become too clean, and so we balk when the children of the Third World use our methods against us, albeit with less finesse and less concern for innocents (though that point could be debated). But destroying ten thousand innocent lives is not acceptable, no matter who pulls the trigger, pushes the button, makes the call, or hijacks the plane. And justice should be required of everyone responsible, no matter where the blame falls.

Mercy, however, should not be forgotten. Any thought of revenge should be put aside. America should not concern herself with revenge; it is not a pure enough motive for what must be done. For what must be done is terrible in and of itself. A life for a life will not return said life. Death cannot be undone. And since it does not lie in our power to give life, we should be careful in our deliberations to take life. Hunt down those responsible, yes. Make them pay the ultimate price for their crimes, yes. But let us not take pleasure in what must be done.

Changing the hearts and minds of all men is impossible. It is human nature to set ones own needs above the needs of others, but its man’s capacity for self-sacrifice that sets him above nature. A dog can only be a dog, it cannot choose to rebel against millions of years of evolution; but man most certainly can. He can say to himself, "I could die in this collapsing building, but I will work anyway to save the life of someone who might yet be alive."

Today in Manhattan civilian volunteers are finding ways to make a difference; digging through the rubble, assisting in the hospitals, donating blood, giving money, praying or simply holding a stranger in their arms as they weep. This is man at his best. This is what he aspires to, but never seems to find until times like these. The times aren’t Evil, men are. But despite the times, it is comforting to know there is still good in the world, that Evil no matter its magnitude only serves to make Goodness shine that much brighter.

The Egyptians built things to last, as did the Greeks and Romans, but then they never saw anything so big as a jumbo jet falling from the sky. It’s not likely even the pyramids could have survived such an attack unscathed; neither could men. But we will survive. That is what we do. Judgment must come, but so must rebuilding. Terrorists thought to destroy a national symbol; they think even now to force us into the bunkers for fear of other such attacks, but we must not give in to this. Find those responsible, punish them swiftly, with mercy, and then rebuild. The Towers are dead, but the ideal is not. Build a memorial to the lives lost, by all means, but rebuild. Show the enemy the measure of our strength, our courage, and our resolve. Rebuild and show the world that these places are sacred; the Spirit of America does not reside in buildings, but in the hearts of her sons and daughters.

Who will ever forget September 11, 2001? Who will ever forget the loss of so many lives, or the tears shed? Who will ever forget that at 8:50am ignorance took a stab at killing something that could not be killed? They have taken untold lives, but they have not destroyed America. Let us rebuild. Let us learn to build for posterity, and hopefully leave in our wake something that will endure.



ELAshley
September 11, 2001

1 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

Sorry I haven't visited lately. I am in the process of moving and have had little time to be online. I am back and posting a little more reguarly now.

September 11, 2007 1:35 AM  

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