While it may not be scientific, people find a renewed sense of faith in the wake of tragedy. I’m not saying every person finds faith in God or the same god—they may find faith in humanity, the government or any other person or thing that brings them peace and comfort.
After the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the United States saw a resurgence of religious interest. While there were isolated incidents of crime against Muslims and a rise in the number of Americans with unfavorable views of Islam, USA Today reported that many Americans actually became more open to learning what Islam was about, partly due to the words of President George Bush in a speech on September 17, 2001:
“We are not at war with Muslims, but with terrorists,” he said. “Islam is peace. It’s a faith based upon love, not hate.”
It’s no wonder that this past week in the realm of religious blogging, the anniversary of 9/11 has been the main topic. There have also been several posts linking the event and subsequent war to the United States’ potential military strike in Syria.
There is a whole host of topics that are being discussed, such as the law-suit to remove the cross from Ground Zero, the need for continual prayer for the families who lost loved ones that day and a continued Islamophobia in America.
While I appreciate the idea of honoring this day and continuing the conversation, I find many of the stories tired. Of course I want to regard the people that lost their lives that day, and I know that we have adopted the national slogan “Never Forget.” However, every year this day comes, and every year the same stories are written.
The Associated Press reported on the ceremonies that were held in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon yesterday. I am by no means undermining the sadness that this day brings to Americans; I am simply suggesting that we could change the way we talk about it in media.
For example, while it may be an unpopular opinion, Becky Garrison, a blogger for Killing the Buddha, shared this week about the tired conversation on the Ground Zero Cross. She finds the cross to be a commercialized symbol with little significance or “miraculous” qualities.
Photo Credit: Killing the Buddha
I am a Christian, and while I (unlike Becky) enjoy the story of that cross being found in the rubble or that no harm came to St. Paul’s Chapel during the attack, I agree with her that this conversation is exhausted.
“But in any case, none of the emails I still receive from 9/11 family groups mention the Ground Zero Cross or support for its inclusion the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. They are concerned instead with more pressing issues, such as health care for 9/11 first-responders, and the ongoing discovery of human remains during construction of the 9/11 Memorial.”
As religious practitioners of love and service, shouldn’t we be more concerned with actual people and their well-being than a piece of steel?
And instead of creating legislation and damaging its relationship with American-Muslims, shouldn’t the government be repairing these damages and encouraging an inclusive electorate?
It just seems that this day and the issues that surround it have become stagnate to me. Every year we have the same ceremonies, the same moments of silence, the same prayers for families and the same newspaper articles and blog posts. So instead of posting your solemn prayer, or Facebook statuses about how you’ll never forget where you were when you heard that the first plane flew into the North Tower, let’s try to find a way to honor lost lives and patriotism in a new way!
I think we can draw some inspiration from the new 9/11 Memorial site. I visited the memorial over the summer, and it was truly amazing. I had not really been keeping up with its construction in the news, and so on the entire drive to New York I kept wondering what kind of structure they had built that would be big enough, grand enough yet sincere and reverent enough to capture the spirit of Ground Zero.
The architects, Michael Arad and Peter Walker, truly outdid themselves. I am still in awe about how a site can be so monumental and large, yet so enchanting and humble. If you don’t know, the memorial features two huge waterfalls and reflecting pools in the exact place each tower stood. Standing around the pools, reading the names inscribed on the monument, I felt peaceful and hopeful, not sad and depressed. I think the memorial does the perfect job of honoring lost lives and providing a sense of hope.
And I hope that on future anniversaries of 9/11, we can write stories and blog posts and make great television packets that express that same sense of hope and honor, and not just immense sadness.