Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dial 911

Eleven years ago, I was a missionary, tracting out the town of Winston-Salem, NC. It was hot, we were tired, we'd had little luck in the area, and suddenly people came to the door and said, "Don't you know what's going on?"

Throughout the day, we watched way more TV than we ever had as missionaries, and I saw the planes hit the towers over and over. The bigness of it all didn't register.

I suppo
se there were some people who saw Pearl Harbor as just a thing that happened on the way to other things. There was war and trouble in the world, and it got worse. Business as usual. That was me.

I wish I'd been more mindful. Not until the Bush administration decided to lump Iraq in with Afghanistan did the whole business appear like a serious global crisis. It had been hijacked by an old desire to deal with Saddam, oilmongering and just plain overreaching.

By that point I was ensconced in school, and then the minute I finished I had a pregnant wife, and there was grad school to think of, and all I could think was that the whole business stank. The tragedy stank, but so did the unnecessary war piled on top of the other one, and it continued to stink while the deaths mounted.

If I could, I would go back and ask myself what my responsibility to my nation was. It could have been something as simple as more volunteer work, or perhaps something as big as military service. It could have been more active protesting of the war. It could have been more support for the troops. Instead, I lived my life with little thought of it all. I tried to be a good person, have some fun, and raise my family.

Now I see in myself the same flaw I cursed in the Bush administration. The tragedy changed the world, but it didn't change me.

I don't want to post this because, other than some increased political activism, I still haven't changed much. I want to. I hope you do too. Whether it's volunteer work, maybe with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America or the Red Cross, or it's activism to bring the troops home and stop the endless war, or your own military service, we can choose to honor the tragedy in the twenty-teens in a way we didn't in the oughties.

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