September 11, 2001 Islamic, al-Qaeda terrorists turned four commercial airline jets into fuel laden flying bombs and destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, a large section of the Pentagon and if not for the heroes on Flight 93 who willingly sacrificed their lives; the White House. 2982 people tragically lost their lives that day; more than the day of infamy at Pearl Harbor. Nine years and two wars later the effects are still being felt world wide.
Did we, and when I say 'we' I mean all of us, collectively, as the most advanced and wealthiest civilization ever to exist in the history of the world; did we learn any lessons from that day?
I think we did, but I think we are hell bent on forgetting them. I think we want to bury that day away and to leave it in the ash heap of history to continue forward like the good old days when death did not rain down from the sky and steal away fathers, husbands, wives, mothers and children without any warning. We want our security back. We want our illusions.
Oh and how wonderful those illusions were. We lived in the most prosperous society in the history of mankind and the most peaceful. The world's super powers had not been at war for over fifty years, for the first time in human history. Science had promised nearly everyone a full, long life with people living regularly past eighty with an active, viable lifestyles. Doctor's long promised cure for diseases was starting to come true; it didn't matter if you had taken the highway to hell just take a pill and everything would be cured. Technology was producing an economy that was going to make everyone wealthy and that which couldn't be bought would be available for free. Man's long sought nirvana was well on its way.
My how things have changed.
Iran is acquiring a nuclear weapon and being sponsored by China and Russia who perform joint military actions together while Islamic fascists threaten to embroil the nations into another world war. Science is discovering that diseases can be more difficult to cure than we thought and the swine flue gave us an ugly reminder that new nightmares are just a mutation away. We are finding out that medicating medical problems for long periods of time causes their own side effects which can kill you just as quickly as the original problem and that the mass produced foods that we are consuming may be causing health problems like obesity and hormonal imbalances. Did I mention that we are finding out that stress will kill you quicker than anything else and how can you not be stressed these days?
That wonderful technology bubble burst and hard. The economic growth that would never end and would eventually make everyone rich cannot even produce jobs in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Wealth at a never before seen magnitude was lost in record time. Our Government has proven itself incapable of even fulfilling an election promise of simply providing much needed hope.
There is a tendency in a wealthy society for people to think that everything is going to turn out well for them. Society has always had an attitude that their way of life will always be around and that it can always conquer the challenges it faces and find solutions to problems that threaten its existence. 'We will always overcome'. The problem is six thousand years of known human history au contraire.
On that tragic day terrorists didn't just destroy buildings and lives they destroyed our illusions of safety. We always believe that if we just do the right things; eat the right foods, exercise, drive cautiously, be green, recycle, reduce global warming, save the whales, save the dolphins, reduce our carbon footprint, use alternate fuels, be racially sensitive, divorce our old wives and marry that young thing, find the perfect spouse, get cosmetic surgery, if we are just good enough then we will avoid that thing called death.
When those twin towers of our economic might and power fell we could no longer deny that someday death too would come knocking at our door, and probably not when we are ready. Our reaction to 2900 plus deaths was disproportionate to say the 40.000 plus who die annually in automobile accidents. Our hidden horror was these people were doing nothing more dangerous than showing up for work and within hours some were jumping forty stories to their death to avoid being burned alive.
This is the lesson of 9/11 that our society refuses to learn or acknowledge; there is no hope of avoiding death. It is coming and when you least expect it.
And yet, I have good news. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). Maybe that verse doesn't seem so contrite now.
September 12 is my birthday. Every year now I am reminded that in one horrific day three thousand people perished and every year I am getting closer to taking that trip. My birthday wish is that you will learn the secret that I have learned; God loves you, God has forgiven you, and God has life for you. That you will accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and so when death comes knocking on your door you will have the will, authority, audacity and hope to tell it to go to hell. Because you won't be there thank you very much.