9/11/18: A 17-Year-Long Lesson That Anger And Fear Don’t Keep Us Safe

9/11/18: A 17-Year-Long Lesson That Anger And Fear Don’t Keep Us Safe September 11, 2018

September 11, 2001 has become the “Where were you the day that…” moment for my generation.  For previous generations, life-changing days were Black Tuesday, 1929.  Pearl Harbor, 1941.  The assassination of John F. Kennedy, 1963.  Then the assassination of MLK, Jr., 1968.  They are moments frozen in time.  Moments when life as we knew it would never be the same.  Continental Divides in history where the direction of our world’s flow was irrevocably changed.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists flew planes into the two towers that comprised the World Trade Center, and the towers came crashing down.  Another plane crashed into the Pentagon.  Brave passengers crashed Flight 93 into a field in Pennsylvania, choosing to sacrifice their own lives so the madmen who’d hijacked the plane couldn’t kill any more.

In total, we lost 2,977 innocent Americans that day.

When the shock of the attack wore off, Americans jumped into action, beginning military efforts in Iraq (even though none of the terrorists who were involved in the attacks were Iraqi) and Afghanistan (where Osama bin Laden, who orchestrated the attacks, was hiding).

Out of anger, grief, fear, retribution and who knows what other motivations, we went to war on two fronts.  And we did catastrophic, exponentially horrific damage.  Hundreds of thousands of innocent people lost their lives at our hands.

In the Iraqi war, 4,486 U.S. soldiers died.  In Afghanistan, 2, 345 soldiers died.  More than 1 million soldiers were wounded.

The wars cost the U.S. more than 6 TRILLION dollars.

And it cost more than half a million innocent Iraqi civilians their lives.

On 9/11 we lost 2,977 Americans.  And somehow that justified taking the lives of half a million innocents in Iraq?

Today, my heart is heavy.

It’s heavy at the memory of the horrific attacks that happened on our soil 17 years ago.  I’m heartsick for the loved ones who got the devastating phone call that their son or daughter or dad or mom or husband or wife or friend was….not ever coming home again.

I’m grieved by the soldiers who lost their lives in the wars that ensued.  Grieved by the physical and emotional and mental toll the violence they both experienced and perpetrated took on these now wounded warriors.

I’m grieved that we spent 6 TRILLION dollars on violent pursuits that made the world more dangerous, not less. Imagine if we’d spent that obscene amount of money on education instead of IED’s, on building infrastructure instead of bombing it, on books instead of bullets, on schools instead of morgues, on food instead of hand grenades, on reconciliation instead of retaliation.

As followers of Jesus, we claim to believe in repentance, in confessing our sins so we can receive forgiveness, in paying restitution so relationships can be restored.

What have we done to confess the damage we’ve done in the world over the past 17 years because we were so blinded by our desire for retaliation?

What have we done to confess that our actions cost half a million of our Iraqi brothers and sisters their lives?  That we were the reason that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis got the news that their son or daughter or dad or mom or husband or wife or friend was….not ever coming home again?

What have we done to repent that we spent so much money — money that we say we are to be wise, responsible stewards of because it all belongs to God — orchestrating attacks that led to so many innocent people’s deaths?   Is that what it means to be a steward of all that belongs to God?  To invest it in death machines that kill kids whose only “crime” was taking an unfortunate route to school that morning?

My friends, today is a day for mourning.  Mourning for U.S. lives we lost 17 years ago, mourning for the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives we’ve taken since, and mourning for the state of our souls even now.

It’s a day to remember that when we act out of anger and fear, we make the world less safe, not more.

When we act out of retaliation, we do exponential damage to ourselves and the world around us.

When we act like American lives matter more than anyone else’s, we end up with the blood of millions of our innocent brothers and sisters around the world dripping from our “praying” hands.

Today is a day to repent of unjust things we’ve done, and continue to do, in the name of God.

It’s a day to repent that we haven’t recognized the image of God in the faces of Iraqis, Afghanis, Muslims, immigrants, refugees and people of color.  Instead, we’ve seen them as acceptable collateral damage in our conquest to feel safe at any cost.  Or maybe, blinded by false gods of patriotism, nationalism and revenge, we haven’t seen our innocent brothers and sisters at all.

Today is a day to choose who we’ll serve: a golden calf formed by politics, corruption, greed, selfishness, anger, fear and hate.  Or the God of Love who calls us to drop our weapons, love our neighbors, bless our enemies, carry our crosses, and stretch out our arms in an all-encompassing, never-ending embrace.







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  • umbrarchist

    I was at home that Tuesday and a friend called me and told me to turn on the television. I distinctly remember standing in my living room with my phone held to my ear staring at the television with my mouth hanging open. I do not recall really “thinking” anything the rest of that day, just a blur of continuous unbelievable images.

    But the very next morning I also recall thinking, “There is no way an airliner could totally destroy a skyscraper that big, that fast.” For the next two weeks that was all that was seriously on my mind.

    When I was in college taking electrical engineering we could see the Sears Tower being constructed in downtown Chicago from campus. There were architects in the frat who mostly talked about how much money the architectural firm was making on the building. But you cannot watch such a building go up, and take physics courses, without an occasional thought about what has to go into the design to make such HUGE MASSES hold themselves up and withstand the wind.

    The Twin Towers were designed to sway 36 inches at the top in a 150 mph wind. The NIST NCSTAR1 report says the south tower deflected 12 inches at the 70th floor and underwent damped oscillation for four minutes after the aircraft impact. But how is it that after 17 years we do not have tables specifying the tons of steel and tons of concrete on every level of the towers? How is it that no engineering school has made a physical or virtual model of the north tower that demonstrates how a 1360 foot building could completely collapse in less than triple free fall time from the top? In 1940 it only took 4 months for a professor and his students at the University of Washington, to build an oscillating model of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in a wind tunnel. Maybe they managed it because they did not have computers to confuse themselves with.

    The 9/11 Affair is a very serious problem. It is not just an ethical problem, but a socio-educational scientific problem, because people in the nation that put men on the Moon half-a-century ago should not be confused about the simple physics of skyscrapers. Most especially the scientists and engineers should not leave it unresolved.

  • Widuran

    We do not fear the evil of Islam. But we will support out Governments whose first duty is to protect its citizens.

  • LastManOnEarth

    And to hell with anybody else, evidently.

  • Widuran


  • Barros Serrano

    In a democratic society we do NOT blindly support our government nor trust our leaders. Why should we? We have no historical justification for such trust.

    Oh I’m completely pro-democratic and all that but what I state is the reality. Our Western governments often behave in ways which are more reminiscent of feudal powers, or perhaps of the kingdoms running the European colonialist “enterprises”.

    Dubya’s occupation of Iraq did nothing to protect us. I would say invading Afghanistan DID pass muster, but Iraq, no. Perhaps we should have occupied Saudi Arabia… oh but wait! Our corporations make big profits by dealing with them. Corporate interests trump the will of the people in this system, and any honest person knows it.

  • Barros Serrano

    I woke up on 9-11 preparing to leave for school. I was teaching in high school in Ridgecrest, on the Navy base. My then wife’s mother called and said, turn on the TV. We did and saw what was happening. Nobody knew if the entire country was under attack, or what would happen. When I got to the school, we began hearing rumors that a white powder had been discovered in an envelope on base, and so we were all worried about that and many thought we might be attacked form the air. Everyone was confused and afraid.

    After school, I went to a donut shop for coffee in Lake Isabella. People there were talking about the events. Someone said, well, at least the President wasn’t hit. I reflexively said, “oh well, no loss anyway”, as I had a very low opinion of Dubya, confirmed by his assorted errors as President. An old guy started yelling at me that I was a Communist, that Hillary was a Communist, that we wanted to destroy America. He was hysterical. He was going on about how he’d fought in WW2 to defend freedom, but he was yelling a lot of crap about anyone who didn’t support Bush was a traitor and so on. All very fascist. I simply said, nice that the Nazis lost that war, but apparently the fascists still won, and walked out.

    Within a few days, someone had shot a Sikh while yelling something about Arabs. At the local Subway, the manager, from India, said white people kept coming in and demanding to know if he was an A-rab. He’d say, No, I am a Hindu, from India. They’d look confused and then ask, Is that A-rab? lol…

    I advised him to put up a U$A flag and a sign that said “We support our troops” or some such, to keep the nuts at bay.

    People from India quickly discovered following 9-11 that Moslems were not a problem to them, but misguided uninformed white Yanks certainly were!

    I’m not going to choose rightwing racist and fascist white Yanks over jihadi Islamicists. That is not the choice. I do not have to support Trumpolini because I hate jihadis. A pox on BOTH your houses!

  • Widuran

    I agree with first two paragraphs.

    I agree the second Iraq war was not tight although WMDS existed. Afghanistan was probably correct and you are right on Saudi. Unfortunately it is money which our governments worship.