Friday, September 17, 2010

Never Again

Several readers have been kind enough to take exception to my last post in which I expressed rage at being attacked on 9/11, rage at the perpetrators of those attacks, rage at those who persist in saying "Peace, peace!" when there is no peace, and rage at those who lack both the passion to recognise that a great wrong has been done and the resolve to see it righted.

My rage is born of passion and I am passionate about only a few things.

I am passionate in my love of this, my country, which I have served, for which I have killed, and for which I've bled and nearly been killed myself. I carry in my body scars that are the results of that passion. I always will. Whatever else, I am a soldier and will always remain so. A great evil has been and is being done to my country.

Should I not be angry? Should I not as a soldier and a citizen be resolved that this evil shall not triumph?

I am passionate in my devotion to my family, for whom I would give my life and possessions, and for whose welfare I labor daily.

Should I not be angry at any and all who seek to enslave them? Should I not be resolved to oppose all who seek such slavery with my every waking breath?

And I am passionate in my desire that evil shall not triumph. In my church, when we recite the creed that states, in part "We are called to be the church ... to seek justice and resist evil," I passionately believe in the meaning every one of those words.

Should I not be angry when I experience a great evil? Should I not be resolved that it never be allowed again?

My good friend Lash pointed out in an email earlier this week, that, in the end, my rage is less about anger and more about resolve. In his words "It would have been easy to roll over and accept our earlier great Satan's: the NAZI's, or military rule by the Japanese, or domination by the Soviet Union's Communism; but we did not take the easy way out. We didn't just give in or give up in order to avoid war and deaths. We were even willing to use our ultimate weapon to end WW-II!! Then we helped those enemies recover. Those enemies are now some of our closest allies... Also, "ISLAM" needs to be 'Judged' by free people everywhere! If 'they' (the majority of Muslims) can't see the difference between murder, freedom, individual rights, respect for other religious beliefs, then they need to be judged and dealt with harshly; just like the other Great Satan's."

We must maintain our resolve, if not our anger, and never forget and NEVER LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

That Day

Dies illa, Dies irae, Calamitatis et miseriae” (That day, day of wrath, calamity and suffering...) Gabriel Faure, Requiem.

This morning, I raised the American flag over my small suburban lot and said a prayer of remembrance. It is 9/11. It is time to remember, and in my memory, September 11, 2001 remains as vivid as yesterday.

On that day, I was at work in the Pentagon. At 9:38 am, I was less than 200 feet from where the right engine of American Airlines Flight 77 tore through C ring before coming to rest against the wall across A-E drive. I smelled the smoke. I saw the fire. I stepped over debris as I exited the building. Outside, I watched as the victims were cared for.

When I learned that what I had experienced was the result of a deliberate act, I was enraged. I remain so. I am enraged that my country was attacked in the name of 'a religion of peace'. Neither terror nor mass murder can ever be part of any rational definition of peace, nor can they ever.

I am enraged.

I am enraged that it took less than six weeks for our elected representatives to start speaking of compromise and negotiation rather than retaliation against those whose sole objective is to obliterate us as a nation. We negotiate. We compromise. We appease. We accommodate. They want to kill us.

I am enraged!

I am enraged that no one in the Islamic world has come forward to condemn these acts of murder for what they are. It's been nine years.

I am enraged!

I am enraged that so many of our priests, ministers, and bishops have joined our pettifogging Congress in blaming us, the victims, for this unprovoked attack. Pale comfort, that.

I am enraged!

I am enraged that even today, we are letting ourselves to be bullied into building a shrine to the religion whose teachings led to the despicable acts of 9/11 at the site of one of those attacks.

I am enraged!

And I am enraged that we cringe so much in fear of the Islamic world that we refuse to advance our rights as a free people living in a free nation. Giving in to bullying is the moral equivalent of “paying protection” in Chicago and only benefits the bullies.

I am enraged.

Everything I ever needed to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11 in the Pentagon. Nothing since then has changed my mind.

And I am enraged!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Gospel of Labor

This year, I attained the age at which most American citizens choose to retire from full-time employment go on to whatever comes next. As one who chooses to remain part of the workforce for the foreseeable future, I find myself increasingly called on to answer the question "Why?" and the honest answer is I don't really know. Maybe I continue to work because it's a habit and I'm simply too old to know better or to change. I've been called to work since I was grown enough to make a difference on Dad's farm, where I learned a lot of truth at the end of a long handled hoe. I've worked in a machine shop, and learned the value of always striving to be a master of the craft. I've been a full-time student, earning grades rather than money. I've been a soldier and known the freedom of eagle flying armed helicopters in harm's way. Most recently and currently, I am employed as a systems engineer (and refugee from a Dilbert Look-alike Contest) figuring out how to make diverse hardware and software platforms play together in perfect harmony to do useful things. I know of no life without useful work. Maybe I continue to work because I like what I'm doing. All of my jobs have been interesting. All have spoken to some aspect of my psyche. And all have been emotionally if not monetarily satisfying. I like getting paid to do interesting things. Or maybe I continue to work because work is what I was made to do. The way I read the creation story, God placed the man he had created in the garden, to dress and to keep it. And when the man and his wife were driven from the garden the curse was not on the man but on the ground, that it not yield its fruit without increased labor. And so, I continue to work and to eat my bread by the sweat of my brow. And, as I age, I find it all good. In the words of an anonymous poet, "This is the gospel of labor, Peal forth, ye bells of the kirk, For the Lord of Love Came down from above To live with men who work. And this is the seed that He planted, Here, in this thorn-curs'd soil: Heaven is blessed With eternal rest, But the blessing of life is toil." Have a great labor day!