Saturday, September 11, 2010

A hippie remembers...

I've been thinking about what I would write today for at least a week. My memories of that dreadful day nine years ago aren't much different from those of most Americans so a rehash of the horror, fear and sadness didn't seem worthy of this post.  With all the unnecessary and sometimes frightening rhetoric concerning the proposed building of a Muslim community center and prayer space, I had assumed I would include something about that issue but I'm not sure I have anything to say that hasn't already been said by now. I think Ron Paul had the most cogent statement on the subject and if you haven't read it, I urge you to read it here.  Here is a small but pointed portion of it:

"The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?

In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.

They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice."
I don't agree with Ron Paul about everything (and unfortunately his son, Rand, is rather disappointing) but he is absolutely spot on with this one.  Imagine if we, as a nation which prides ourself on freedom for everyone, even those with whom we disagree, had embraced the Park 51 project without controversy?  We could have shown the world that we truly adhere to our beliefs and principles, even when they make us uncomfortable.  And at first that is what appeared to happen.  It wasn't until conservative blogger Pamela Geller, co-founder of Stop Islamization of America stirred things up that most of the nation even knew or cared about the project.   Of course, it wasn't long before others took up her clarion call and it spread like wildfire.  But just suppose we had all remained true to the belief that everyone has the right to practice their own religion (or no religion) without interference.  Not to mention, property rights.  Wouldn't that have sent a message to the terrorists and radicals that no matter what they do, they cannot take away who we are and what we believe?  But instead, we played right into their hands, exhibiting fear and hatred and intolerance.  Shame on us.

Huh, I guess maybe I did still have something to say about this issue.  But moving right along, I also thought I would be writing about the idiot *pastor* in Florida who thought that getting his church of 50 people to burn a bunch of Qu'rans on the anniversary of 9/11 would be a stellar way to celebrate the day.  That has got to be one of the more asinine ideas I've heard and in the current political climate, that's saying something.  Again, Ron Paul issued a statement with which I agree.  It said, in part:

“As I have said time and time again, Osama bin Laden wins by 'proving' that America is an enemy of Islam and has an occupation agenda in the Middle East. And, we continue to walk into his trap and hand him up his best recruitment tool in his efforts to provoke hatred and terrorism against the United States.
“If we don’t want to incite radical Islamists, we need to stop these un-needed wars. It is high time we came to our senses, brought our troops home to defend our country and pursued a Constitutional, Pro-American foreign policy.”
Fortunately it appears that this, um...okay I'll be nice and just call him "pastor", called off his plan.  I don't want to give him any further notoriety so we'll just leave it at that.

So, then, what should I focus on in this post?  It seems everyone on Facebook posted something about 9/11 today.  There were tear-inspiring videos and lots of "Never Forget"-type statements.  One of the ones most personally touching was my very dear friend in Britain who posted an American flag on her status "in a moment of remembrance for 9/11".  Oh, and she just happens to be Muslim.

And then I saw this:

Well said, Mr. President.  Today is a time to remember those who lost their lives nine years ago, including the 343 firefighters.  It is a time to remember that "we are our brother's keeper".  It is a time to remember and honor our troops and their families who sacrifice so much for the rest of us.  I especially appreciate this portion of his speech:

"But we also renew the true spirit of that day.  
Not the human capacity for evil, 
but the human capacity for good.  
Not the desire to destroy, 
but the impulse to save."
He then designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance, encouraging us to recall our impulses to care for one another during those dark times nine years ago and carry that forward.  I truly believe that if everyone in this nation would dedicate themselves to at least one regular volunteer activity, it could change not only this country, but we as individuals.  There is nothing quite like helping someone else to take the focus off one's own problems and increase understanding of the problems faced by others.

Back in the early 90s, I was working as a hospice nurse.  That in itself was one of the most life-changing experiences for me and perhaps I'll share more about that one of these days.  I was also the mom of two young elementary school-age children and quite busy.  So busy that I really didn't think I had time for any volunteer work other than reading to my children's classes each week.  But then I noticed that a very busy physician in our church made time to deliver Meals on Wheels.  She was also a mom and to this day still spends part of her vacation time each year doing medical missionary work in Central America.  That was when I realized that if she could make time to deliver Meals on Wheels, I could, too.  I have done so faithfully ever since and it has enriched my life.  I've also fairly recently helped out at a local facility called Compassion Outreach.  That same physician is one of the local doctors who donates their services to this fine organization.  In addition to free medical care, various churches take turns providing a meal.  There is also a clothes closet.  I've brought food a couple of times and have helped serve once.  I was stunned by the number of people in our small community who turned out for this.  I even recognized a few.  Without exception, everyone was polite and most expressed their extreme gratitude for the meal we were serving.  This Tuesday is our church's turn to serve the meal again and I've signed up to help.  I don't work outside the home and my children are grown.  This is the time in my life to devote significant effort to volunteer work but everyone can find a little time to give once in awhile.  And I encourage everyone to do so.  Trust me, you will be richly rewarded by the experience. 

In the the weekly address, President Obama reminded us that we should not "allow ourselves to be defined by fear" but by hope for the future.  It is time for each of us to quit listening to the fear-mongers and start living life with joy and purpose and compassion for others.  That is how we win the "war on terror".

Blessed are the peacemakers, 
for they shall be called the children of God. 
Matthew 5:9


Amanda said...

I did post earlier today about my shock and horror at the time of the event, but it was more of a theraputic motive (for myself) than to try to say anything new.
I think it's funny that people with kids say they don't have time to volunteer. Not because I have loads of free time myself, but because I spent years wishing I had time to volunteer. Years during which I was single and childless. But I always had something more important to do. So while I did want to volunteer, I didn't want it enough. I didn't volunteer anywhere until my older son was almost two. I started working at our local clothes closet/food pantry while he was in Mom's Morning Out. And once he got old enough to sit quietly and play, he came with me. So he and I both learned something.
Helping others makes you get outside of yourself and it's an experience I'd never give up. I'm volunteering in a different capacity now, but I'm still helping. Thank you for helping me remember why I do it.

Cherie said...

My husband and I were just talking about how some people use the occasion, not for remembrance, but to spread hatred.

I know people are very busy with jobs and family, but I have noticed that some of the same people who say they don't have time to volunteer seem to find time to watch an incredible about of TV. There are many ways to help charitable organizations, some of which you can do from home. It is such a rewarding thing to know that you're making a difference in the world.