When we awoke on that morning we all knew we were basically safe & sound. When we went to bed, we all knew we were not. It was an illusion to be sure, but until 9/11 Americans really thought we were secure… we were safe & sound.
The most enduring impact of SEP 11 2001 was the loss of any sense of security. It was gone, and it really hasn’t come back.
What’s so incredible is that it happened to everybody, and it happened at exactly the same moment. Our sense of security vanished, and what filled the vacuum was fear.
So much of what has transpired since that day has been as a result of our fear, and our collective attempt to regain that sense of security: 2 wars, the Patriot Act, surveillance, data gathering, drone warfare… for heaven’s sake we created a whole new department of of government called Homeland Security.
The word security has taken on great significance since 9/11.
Earlier this year & heard Brian Zahnd point out that, when you travel the word and visit holy sites, you are often asked to remove your shoes. It’s a sign of reverence. If you visit an ancient Muslim mosque or Hindu Shrine or Buddhist temple, you’ll be asked to remove your shoes. But the only place in America they ask you to take off your shoes is when you’re going thru security.
Security is now holy ground in our society. We will do nearly anything to reestablish the illusion that we are all safe & sound.
We need security, because without it the fear takes over.
Insecurity cause epic problems for the people of God throughout the bible. Insecurity caused Cain to kill his brother Abel. Insecurity caused the people to band together at Babel to build a fortress tower for safety. Insecurity caused Abraham to sleep with his handmaid, Hagar. Insecurity caused some of the Children of Israel to beg Moses to take them back to Egypt. Insecurity caused Israel to beg God for a king to rule over them.
Insecurity makes us fearful and then we act foolishly.
In the scriptures, we find a God who is deeply opposed to any attempt by nations or persons to try & accomplish our own security, because God wants us to look to him for our security. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the gig for the Christian.
On SEP 21, three weeks after the collapse of the twin towers, a benefit concert was held to raise money for families of victims. George Clooney organized it (because who can say no to George Clooney?) Two performances have stuck with me, because they chose songs of lament. Springsteen did, “My City In Ruins,” and Sheryl Crow did “Safe & Sound.” (video below) I think it was the most important thing that happened that night. Crow named the insecurity we all feel when we can’t keep those around us, or even ourselves, safe and sound.
Here’s a great live performance of the song.