". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Ghost of 9/11 Past

Recently on Facebook I posted a link to a photo retrospective on the 9/11 attacks and made the comment that as painful as it is, we need to continue to remember that day. A good friend of mine said she worried that in all the remembrances and commemorations what we are doing is wallowing in our grief and that she thought those who lost their lives that day would want us to move on.

I understand what she's saying. Sometimes when I see the events of that day replayed on my television screen I think about those who are watching and taking pleasure in the suffering they caused. For them it was a great, victorious occasion and when we relive it perhaps we are feeding their celebrations. On the other hand, I think that we have no choice but to remember what happened and to teach future generations just as we have always taught about terrible things in history, as much as it hurts to do so. We don't turn a blind eye to slavery or war or the Holocaust. These things are facts and we have to face them and teach our children about them. And I guess what I can't figure out is how we remember painful events without revisiting the pain. With time and distance the pain is not so acute, but I think it will always be there. And I think it should be. If we get to the point that we can remember horrible events without feeling horror, I wonder if we're truly remembering.

Here are a couple of columns I recently read on this topic. Again, I can see both sides. Dr. Gene Veith writes about grief and outrage "fatigue" and 9/11 "exhaustion." He says he wishes we could move on. On the other side, Peggy Noonan says "We'll never get over it, nor should we."

What do you think? Can we remember that day without remembering the horror and grief of it? If we downplay those things, are we truly remembering? It occurs to me that in the 21st century our ability to relive past events is much more technologically advanced than it used to be. We have the capacity to replay the news footage from that day in a way that puts us right back in the midst of it in real time. We haven't always been able to do that, so maybe that is part of the dilemma here. We can relive, not merely remember, and maybe my friend is right that instead of remembering, we are wallowing. I don't know. But I do know that in spite of our ability to relive the events of that day I sometimes worry that we have not learned what we should have learned from them. And if that is the case, I suppose wall-to-wall week-long commemorations aren't going to make much difference.

2 comments:

Working man said...

Cheryl I see the point you are trying to make. I would wager that people do rejoice in the suffering and destruction they have caused. I do believe also that it’s such a small part of the world’s population it really doesn’t matter what they think. To your larger point we as a nation can never forget what happened. No matter your politics or believes this was an attack on our nation as a whole. To try and hide or forget what happened would first in my opinion lead to us letting our guard down. The more important thing in my mind is to let the world know we are a nation that stands for freedom, and will not be intimidated by anyone at any time. We should remember and we should remember the horror and the grief. In time that will go away but for the foreseeable time I think this generation should always remember.

Leah said...

I had my (older) children watch the real-time footage last Sunday of the planes hitting the twin towers. They were too young when it happened to be aware of the attacks and they have only heard references made to the event over the years without really visualizing what happened.

I don't think it is wallowing if we the parents are using (remembrances of) these happenings as opportunities to interpret what effects sin and evil has on us all - personally, as families, as communities, and as a nation.

I don't want my children to be ignorant of "terrorism" in the world or of the suffering caused by it.
On the other hand, when they became appalled and shocked that men could do such things, I had to remind them that the same corrupt wicked heart lies within each of us, the ones that put Jesus to death on the Cross. Sin is real. Pain is real. Death is real.

But Jesus, our Savior, our only hope, conquered sin and death, and is more real than all else.

That is what we talked to our children about last Sunday.