Ask any adult in the U.S. what they were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001 and they all remember.
I had just arrived at the pediatrician’s office with my eight year old daughter, and all attention was on the TV. One of the other parents explained that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.
Everyone was speculating on the cause of the accident, until a second plane hit the other tower. One of the mothers in the waiting room screamed and collapsed on the floor. As if we were thrust into The Matrix, time seemed to move backwards for the rest of the day, hearing of an attack on The Pentagon and of another flight (United Flight 93) that crashed when the passengers fought the hijackers. In only 77 minutes, 2,997 lives were lost. Thousands of families were destroyed. The nation was numb. I‘ve been told by people who were in New York that day that there was no hesitation for civilians to help people that needed help; New Yorkers rose up.
Business owners gave away food and water; people were helping others who needed to contact loved ones or get medical treatment. Some even gave away clothes. In the days after, stores sold out of American flags. People that couldn’t get flags posted signs on their windows and doors. Schools even sold T-shirts with the message of “United We Stand.“
There was a huge concert in October at Madison Square Gardens to raise funds and honor the first responders that lost their lives trying to save others.
I remember writing then that if the goal of the terrorists was to destroy the U.S. with hate and violence, that they failed.
There were some cases of ignorant people harassing and bashing people of Middle Eastern descent, but for the most part we were all in this fight together, regardless of race, religion or financial status. As I reflect on that day, I wonder how would the general public react if (God forbid) we experienced another massive terror attack. Would we bunker down in our homes, stockpiled with bottled water and toilet paper?
Would we be so fearful that we shoot anyone we see walking in our neighborhood that we think doesn’t belong? Would we use terrorism and criminal activity as an excuse to call police and ICE on people just because they’re different? And then stand by silently while babies exchange the loving arms of a mother for a cage with a tin foil blanket and fathers are murdered in front of their own children? Yes, I wonder how some people would react to an act of mass terror when all of the things I mentioned above has become just another day in 2020. Has the cancer of hate spread too far to think that America could ever ‘stand united’ again? We stood united in 2001, but what were we standing against? The enemy was never another race, religion, culture, or country.
Ephesians 6:12 says that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the rulers of darkness in this world. The enemy was, has always been and will always be evil. Evil is what lives in the hearts of wicked people. While evil is what caused those 19 men to carry out the 9/11 attack, evil is in no way confined to acts such as those. Evil is also racism, nationalism, misogyny and xenophobia.
It should not take a horrific tragedy like 9/11 for people to treat each other the way that Jesus said we are supposed to do every day. We stood up against international terror in 2001.
It‘s time we stand up against all terror, and that starts with the space in between our own two feet. Selah.