As today is the tenth anniversary of the Septembe 11 Terrorist Attacks, I feel compelled to address this occasion. The problem is that I don’t know what to say. I think my definitive writing on September 11 is the one I wrote a year ago. I suppose that I could just post a flashback post and be done with it.
Somehow, that doesn’t seem quite right, but what more is there to say? Well, there have been a few developments in the intervening year. The Arab Spring gave us common cause with people that the most simplistic among us, the most ignorant among us, the most hateful among us would make our enemies for the simple reason that they share the faith that the terrorists used to justify their actions. Then came the death of Osama Bin Ladin. Here’s what I had to say about that. Again, I don’t know what I can say more definitely than that.
So what about the anniversary? Well, I would hope that when we remember the horrific events of that day we would, in the midst of the highly appropriate rememberances of those who gave their lives, either by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or by heroically charging into harm’s way in full knowledge that the time and place were both terribly wrong, we would shy away from trying to oversimplify the complex issues that have dominated the intervening decade.
As satisfying as it would be to simply say “We were attacked. We got up. We fought back,” we would be ignoring vital questions about war and peace, freedom and security, and fear and faith. As easy as it would be to say “If you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists,” it would ignore the efforts of our allies to keep us from striking out blindly in our rage. As much as it would be easy to despair of any hope of reconcilliation between different faiths, to fear the other, we would deny ourselves of the joy we have found in the faces of courageous Muslims in Tunisia and Egypt and Syria and Libya, and Yemen and Iran with who we have found common cause in their desire to breath free.
So on this anniversary, I would ask us all to remember the lost, but to also remember the complexities that exist in the world and to seek the right path of healing by being willing to reject the simple and the easy when the right answer is complex and difficult.