Recently, a discussion was started in an online forum I frequent as to whether or not 9/11 should be designated as a national holiday, folks stating that the tragic events on 9/11/01 should never be forgotten.
I’ve been thinking on this. On the one hand, I highly doubt anyone who lived through that day is going to forget it. As another said in that discussion, “I’m pretty sure most everyone in this forum can tell you exactly where they were when it happened.” Many of us can probably recall the whole day quite clearly – when we heard the news, how we reacted, who we were with throughout the day, what we did, etc. I know I surely can.
But on the other hand, I wonder – have we as a nation REALLY remembered?
This was the one and only time in my lifetime that I can remember the majority of our country’s people working together to help in whatever way they could. It seemed, if only for a short time, our patriotism prevailed. We were able to put our petty differences aside and stand together, work together toward a common goal.
Those of us that were not able to be at crash sites working or assisting the rescue workers and subsequent cleanup crews…we got involved in other ways. We were collecting donations of clothing, food, medical supplies and such and ensuring they were sent to where they were needed. We were organizing and contributing to fundraisers. We were talking with each other, helping each other through our time of grief. We were praying, on our own, and within our spiritual groups of various faiths. And people (not just those of any one particular creed, color, nationality, social or financial status – but people, as alike and as different as we all are) were offering moral support to the survivors, and to the families and friends who lost loved ones. We offered our support to those who were in the midst of these disasters trying to save as many lives as they could, while also retrieving those whose lives were lost so their families could give them a proper funeral. I can’t imagine the horrendous sights these people have seen first hand – the images that must have haunted their dreams, and probably still do.
But today it seems to me that our country is once again divided; our ability to put aside those petty differences and stand united as a nation forgotten. What I see today causes me concern for our country.
In one multi-faith religion and spirituality discussion forum that I participate in, there is a constant battle between many Christians and non-Christians. There are some there who seem to think America should be a Christian theocracy and they spew their hate and intolerance of those who disagree. Conversely, I’ve seen some extreme atheists there claiming there should be no religion in America, that all people who have a belief in the divine are silly or stupid, and that religion of any flavor is ruining our country.
And then there is a minority group, consisting of others like me who believe that religion is and should remain a personal choice, and we should not be tormented for our spiritual beliefs and practices. It doesn’t seem too much to ask. So long as we are law-abiding citizens and are not interfering with the civil rights of others, there should be no issue here. But the voices of those who promote peace, tolerance, compassion, and understanding are often drowned out by those who seem to thrive on conflict.
Have we not learned from world history? Wasn’t escaping religious persecution one of the major reasons Europeans traveled to and settled in what would become the United States of America? What about the U.S. Constitution? Why such a fervent fight to take away our freedoms?
Then there are the continued arguments over such things as the legality of gay marriage and abortion.
It really does not affect or interfere with my life in any way if homosexual couples wish to be married and benefit from the same legal rights and tax status as heterosexual married couples. Legalizing gay marriage does not mean that heterosexual people have to marry members of the same sex, so I really see no issue here.
Also, I often see folks claiming that pro-choice = pro abortion. Honestly, I don’t personally know one person whose stance is pro-choice that actually advocates for an increase in abortions – but rather they promote the need for proper sex-education, easier and affordable access to birth control and health care, and to not have such personal rights and choices be legislated by the government.
These battles are based mostly on religious beliefs and prejudices, that again, not all Americans share.
We’re still at war, our economy is in the toilet, our healthcare system sucks, our educational standards have declined, and our justice system is often unjust. Why can’t we, as a nation, stand together and put our energies and efforts into working together toward the most common goals? Shouldn’t equality, justice, and quality of life for all Americans be our first and foremost concern? We need to understand that there is diversity here, and have more respect for each other. We need to be part of the solution, not be adding to the problems. Fighting amongst each other over differences of opinion that will not change seems to me to be rather useless. Agree to disagree and focus on the bigger picture.
I and others of like-mind in the forum agreed that while 9/11 should never be forgotten, it is not necessary or wise to designate it a national holiday. Several reasons were presented; life must go on, if we were to take a day off from work and school to remember every tragic event that’s ever happened, our regular lives would come to a screeching stop (such other tragedies as hurricane Katrina and the Columbine and Virginia Tech. shootings were brought up in discussion); many of our American military men and women have died since 9/11/01 in their continued service to our country, their desire to uphold our freedoms and keep Americans safe and secure; instead of dwelling on the past, we must learn from it and work for a better future.
I agree with all of these reasons. In addition, I fear that many Americans have not truly learned their lessons. I feel we should remember the events and aftermath of 9/11 not only today, on its anniversary, but every day – in our actions, and our behaviors and attitudes toward others. We have shown that we have the ability to unite as a nation and work together in the face of tragedy. But must it be only such a thing that prompts us to do this? We need to get our noses out of the personal business of our neighbors and put our priorities in proper order. We need to learn to coexist more peacefully with each other.
United we stand, divided we fall.
My prayers can be found by clicking here.
(Yes, I know I often sound like Dr. Suess when I write my own prayers. ;-))
Blessings to all on this day, and every day, as we remember and reflect.
I didn’t read this until after, but apparently President Obama shares some similar thoughts, according to this article of the NY Daily news.
Let’s hope Americans heed his words and take these messages to heart.