Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11: The 12th Anniversary

 There was something uncomfortable for me last night as I contemplated that our President was going to make a case for "surgical strikes" against Syria, on the eve of us remembering the "surgical strikes" on the United States from 12 years ago.  Of course, what happened on September 11, 2001, were not characterized as "surgical strikes."  And yet--they were.  They had the intended effect of terrorizing the nation, and in a matter of minutes, they killed brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, moms, dads, lovers, friends.  None of us who were alive to witness this horror and the images of smoking heaps of rubble in New York and Washington, DC, and a field in Pennsylvania, will ever forget the uneasiness, confusion, anger and fear that gripped us all that day.

Which brings me to the comment about Syria.  All the polls, and the words from members of Congress, indicate that we are weary of war.  Yes, the use of chemical weapons and the killing of thousands of women and children is offensive to the core for anyone who has an ounce of compassion for humanity in their bodies.  The attacks inside Syria should never have happened.   The civil unrest in Syria is something that worries me.  

But how does one really accomplish a "surgical strike" that does NOT result in more destruction?  More hardship for the citizens?  More needless bloodshed?   

Last week, at Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Jack Romberg of Temple Israel preached a powerful and personal sermon about what happened to members of his extended family at the end of World War II.   Some had managed to survive the Nazi era, largely because of those who dared to risk their own lives and safety to protect their fellow citizens from persecution.  But survival of the war brought its own devastation.  In one instance, the family went had to travel by foot several hundred miles back to Essen.  After much hardship in getting home, they discovered that they had no home--literally.  The allied forces had bombed the city so thoroughly that there was nothing left of what had once been their residence.  The allies were victorious.  There were celebrations back at home.  Meanwhile, those who were not soldiers and had had nothing to do with the fighting and were just simply trying to live were left with a pile of stones and concrete.  The Rabbi's point was that, after spending hours this summer interviewing these relatives and listening to their stories, he could no longer agree with the concept of a 'Just War.'  And to consider the loss of life of civilians not engaged in the conflict as "collateral damage" is a way of removing the truth of the matter: we're killing people because they happen to be in the way.

My own father once told me of his years serving in the United States Navy during WWII that it's customary for those who are involved in war to believe that they are fighting on the side of "righteousness."  It's easy to feel that way, he said, because you don't see the people being hurt by the bombs you're dropping from an airplane.  In his 80s, my father seemed to be coming to his own place of thinking that, perhaps, war is not the only answer.

The president seems willing, for now, to hold off on launching missiles at Syria as the dialogue and negotiations involving our old Cold War enemy, Russia, continue to unfold.  But there is an uneasiness in this situation, and I don't know what the outcome is going to be.  And certainly, the Russian leadership has about as much integrity, in my opinion, as a snake.  

The Episcopal Church offered a special collect today for remembering the victims and the violence of September 11th.  But I think it is just as appropriate to reflect upon the Prayer for Our Enemies as we remember 9/11/2001... and look at our world of 9/11/2013:

  O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love
our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth:
deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in
your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

1 comment:

Phoebe McFarlin said...

Its a nightmare. Its got to be a nightmare. A puppet show nightmare and I do not know who is pulling the strings!

Please God.. Let us wake up and find ourselves in a loving world or at least a sensible one!