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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thirteen years later

Every year on this date, I wake up and find it difficult to catch a full breath. And then I look at the calendar or my iPhone and I remember.

It's September 11.


Today is the 13th Anniversary of that awful day that changed so much in our lives that we had taken for granted and didn't know we'd miss until after their absences became part of the "New Normal, Post 9/11 Reality".

The 'Patriot Act" (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001) was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, and with it, we began living into the bizarre notion that giving up some of our personal freedoms - our "inalienable rights" - would keep us "safe".

The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001. The authorization granted the President the authority to use all "necessary and appropriate force" against those whom he determined "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the September 11th attacks, or who harbored said persons or groups.

The AUMF was signed by President George W. Bush on September 18, 2001.

Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp ("Gitmo") was established in January of 2002 "to detain extraordinarily dangerous prisoners, to "interrogate" prisoners in "an optimal setting", and to prosecute prisoners for war crimes. Detainees captured in the "War on Terror", most of them from Afghanistan and much smaller numbers later from Iraq the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia were transported to the prison.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA)  was signed into law by President (you guessed it) George W. Bush in November 2001. Originally part of the US Department of Transportation the TSA was moved to the Department of Homeland Security on March 9, 2003.

In November of 2002, The Homeland Security Act was passed to "make America secure from terrorist attacks."

In effect, TSA and Homeland Security have made the experience of air travel completely odious and noxious in particular and life in general in these United States less and less united about more and more things we once simply understood to be part of what made us Americans. 

In the almost predictable but always foolish wave of jingoism fueled by revenge that followed, we were plunged - or, allowed ourselves to be plunged - into two wars - Afghanistan and Iraq. Both wars were supposed to have ended once we "got" Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein - but have not.

I really believe The Tea Party was born on 9/11/01 and, with it, the beginning of the War(s) on Women, Reproductive Justice, The Voting Rights Act, and Immigration.

The budget appropriation for the NDDA (The National Defense Authorization Act), which specifies the the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense, increases ($607 billion for 2014) every year as the budget for programs to help the poor have the basic human rights of food, clothing and shelter is slashed - year after year after year.

In June of 2014, the NDDA was expanded and passed by Congress so that detainees may be brought to the United States for "detention pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force" (AUMF). In plain English, that means the policy of indefinite detention by the military, without charge or trial, can now be carried out here at home.  

And, don't even get me started on the National Security Administration (NSA) surveillance and "domestic government spying".

I think the reason I wake up every year on this date and find it hard to catch a full breath is not just because of my memories of that day and the days that immediately followed.

Somewhere, deep in my heart, I'm really afraid that the terrorists have won, after all.

We were told that we were attacked on 9/11 because "they hate our freedom".

Well, we seem to have given up quite a bit of it to prove "them" wrong.

In the raw, gaping holes and broken concrete and twisted steel left in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania terrorists seem to have exposed the dark underbelly of this country.

They have revealed to us that we are, in many ways, still fighting the Civil War.  Tribalism. Racism. Sexism. Greed. Slavery. All these things still exist and we are still doing battle with them.

It's no surprise - well, not to me, anyway - that with the recent war and now tenuous truce in Gaza and the rise to power of ISIS/ISIL and their barbaric beheading of two American journalists, many religious folk are using this 13th Anniversary to talk about The End of Time.

The Apocalypse.

The Parousia

It's not a surprise to me because I think a sad reaction and result of "Never Forget(ing) 9/11" has been that on focusing on the destruction and the deaths that happened on this day, we've not allowed ourselves to heal. Not even "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" which some thought we'd achieve in the brutal death of Osama bin Ladden and Saddam Hussein have "settled the score".

Some will argue that we haven't yet had enough time to heal. Perhaps. I would argue that as long as we keep focusing on what "they did to us" as opposed to working to right the wrongs in the systems of our own country, we will continue to use 9/11 as an excuse to water our own seeds of prejudice and oppression and violence and we will never heal.

In the meantime, we are loosing - if some of us have not already lost - our souls.

Henri Nouwen says something very interesting about end time behavior in his book, "Bread for the Journey":
The great danger of the turmoil of the end-time in which we live is losing our souls.  Losing our souls means losing touch with our center, our true call in life, our mission, our spiritual task.  Losing our soul means becoming so distracted by and preoccupied with all that is happening around us that we end up fragmented, confused, and erratic.  Jesus is very aware of that danger.  He says:  "Take care not to be deceived, because many will come using my name and saying, 'I am the one' and 'The time is near at hand'  Refuse to join them" (Luke 21:8).

In the midst of anxious times there are many false prophets, promising all sorts of "salvations."  It is important that we be faithful disciples of Jesus, never losing touch with our true spiritual selves.
I think that means that it is important - now more than ever - for those of us who profess to follow Jesus, that we get on with the work of the Gospel.  You know, the "Good News". 

Thirteen years later, I am hearing the words in Philippians 4:8-9 in a new, more compelling way. I am hearing them as a way to honor the 2, 976 lives of those who died on 9/11.

So, I leave these words with you as a way to get through this sad anniversary in our common lives.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
With that as the "new normal", I do believe I'd wake up on this anniversary able to catch a full breath.


8thday said...

I loved today’s Story of the Day from the Crew People - “In remembrance & for our future - We will hold the world in arms grown strong with love.”

Today my family each performs 9 intentional acts of kindness, one for each person we knew, now gone. Whether I ever see results or not, I will go to my grave believing that love wins.

“We will hold the world in arms grown strong with love.”

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I did, too. Posted it on my FB wall. I also believe that love wins. If other people start believing that, and doing things like you do, we'll be able to turn this around. Right now, it looks bad for love and good for the terrorists.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Gee, Fred, I guess you're SOL