Monday, September 19, 2011

9/11 Haters: Save It

I tend to obsess over dates.  I grew up with a mother who is very anniversary-focused, down to the time of day of whatever the event happened to be.  So now I have my own catalog of days etched onto my heart: the day we found out we were expecting Elise, the day Colin and I started dating in high school, even sillier things like the day my first beau broke my heart (in a happy coincidence, Colin proposed exactly six years later, so that date has a much sweeter association now).

But you needn't be a date-lover like me to have felt a certain heaviness two Sundays ago.  I've had moments of sorrowful remembrance over September 11, 2001, countless times since that day, but as a ten-digit human completely steeped in base-ten culture, the fact that a whole wide decade had passed since that dreadful day inspired prayer and reflection in my heart.  Like many others, I posted a #neverforget tweet and updated my FB status: "God bless America, land that I love."  Tiny, tiny gestures, but gestures just the same.  The blog posts and updates that my friends posted in a similar vein lifted my spirits.  Solidarity, patriotism, hope.

What perturbed me were the occasional tweet, status, and article shared which in one way or another sought to demean or trivialize those sentiments.  What about the poor? they complained.  What about all the other sorrows and tragedies that affect people every single day which are simply ignored?  Why don't you care about them?  Who cares about your precious memory of how you were in a high school class learning HTML when you first found out that some terrorists flew an airplane into a building you never saw.  It didn't even affect you personally!  And my favorite, It was all just a conspiracy by our government!  America is the aggressor!  America is evil!  RT @AJEnglish!

I take exception to posts like these.  Yes, there are heinous realities the whole world over.  People die of malnutrition every day.  Water supplies are contaminated.  Impoverished mothers attempt to sustain their children with filthy mud because they have nothing else.  We are called to tend to the poor and sick and needy everywhere, every day.  But these sorrows do not lessen in any way the tragedy of September 11.  America was attacked on her own soil for the first time on almost sixty years.  Victims, many of them heroes, died terrifying deaths.  And we learned just how far the extremist enemies of the free world were willing to go to murder and frighten us.

It's just like when you confide in someone about a worry or problem that you have, and their response is to one-up you with a story about how much worse off they are.  That response is uncharitable, and it is wrong.

And as for the conspiracy theories, or the assertions that America's the real problem -- save 'em.  You have a right to believe that if you wish, but I think it demonstrates absolutely no class or respect for the deceased and their families to implicitly insult them, our military, and the majority of the American citizenry who do not espouse those viewpoints on the ten-year anniversary of the attacks.

I don't think America is perfect.  No place this side of Eden could be.  But I love my country.  So please, all you folks who either don't think September 11 matters or don't think it matters for the reasons I do -- get off your high horse.  If you want to call attention to the plight of the poor, great!  You can do that all the time, even on September 11, without referencing the terrorist attacks at all as they are irrelevant to your cause.  If you believe our government is corrupt, vote and campaign for the challengers in the 2012 elections.  If you believe Americans are evil, take measures to soften our hearts.  But don't demean the well-intended, prayerful reflection on a truly sad day in our history, because if you do, it's obvious that you're not really trying to draw attention to any cause but your own self-importance.


  1. This post is beautiful Louise! I agree completely and love your last paragraph especially.

  2. You're awesome. Just one more reason I let you be my friend. ;)

  3. One thing that always gets me about this kind of stuff is that the haters all act like there's some kind of quota on caring. For all they know, you might pray for the poor every day and volunteer at a soup kitchen or something.

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing.