I currently am cuddled up in my couch, my eyes periodically resting on my Christmas decorations and reading the news. I look up from my laptop and see beautifully festive decor, meant to represent the celebration of the birth of Christ. It is a season of celebration, of lights, family traditions, gatherings and fellowship over food laden tables. It is a time of joy as we count down the days to December 25th. I love this time of year. I love looking at my decorations and reminiscing back over the years, as I collected each piece and what that year meant to me. I love my tree, a representation of all those years. Each ornament symbolizing something from that year. Each ornament, with 2 matching ones packed away for my girls to eventually put on their own trees one day.
Then I glance down at the news. Ugh, the news.
It has been a rough week for this nation, not nearly as horrific as it was in Paris, but once again my home, America, has been hit by terrorism. I have many emotions swirling around inside of me as I read, absorb, and reflect on the news: Shock, anger, disbelief, and an abundance of sadness. I cannot help but think about the families that now, instead of joyful celebrations and reunions around this holiday, will be mourning the loss of a loved one.
I remember quite clearly 9/11, our first true taste of terrorism on our nations soil. I was getting my kids out the door to catch the bus to school. I had the news running in the background. The news anchor reported that Tower 1 had been hit by a plane. Initially, no one suspected this was an intentional act, but we did know that people would have been hurt. I kissed my children, we said a prayer for those who might be hurt (or worse), and off they went. Then Tower 2 was hit. Then they both collapsed. Slowly, it began to dawn on many of us, this was not an accident. This WAS intentional. It was a numbing reality. I remember the skies being completely empty that day, as all air traffic was grounded. There was an eerie quiet about that day.
Then in the days to follow, we, as a nation pulled together in unity. Workers from all over the country went to help with the twisted, burning wreckage in New York City. Stories of compassion, assistance, bravery, self-sacrifice emerged, and we felt proud to be part of this group we call ‘Americans’. We rallied together, just as we have always done in times of stress. People became a bit nicer to each other. The houses of faith filled with people in prayer for survivors, prayers for the families looking for their loved ones, and prayers for those who were lost. It was Unity, and unifying.
I compare that to today. The difference is stark. We were attacked again, on our own soil, and once again after the initial horror, it slowly became apparent this was terrorism. But this time, instead of pulling together and unifying, we seem to be settling in to war camps. We are arguing among ourselves, who is to blame, who is not to blame? Who is responsible, who is not responsible? Politics, which has invaded every aspect of our lives, rears its ugly head and divides us even more. What has happened to us that we cannot seem to unify to support our fellow countryman, and stand against the evil that has taken lives yet again, right here, on our front door?
There is a famous line in John Dickinson’s The Liberty Song: United we stand, divided we fall.
We face an enemy, and a determined one at that. As Americans, whether we like it or not, we share that in common. So why, when we need to be united to stand strong against our common foe, are we allowing ourselves to be divided? We are Americans, we have overcome far worse in our tumultuous history. We have battled evil in many forms throughout the 200+ years. We have done it by being Americans first, and by aspiring to be good, do the right thing, fight for eternal truths and liberties.
We need to be mindful of history, learn from the mistakes and repeat the successes. I think of then, and now, and I implore my fellow countryman to put the greater principles above our own personal interests.
We need to come together.
We did it then. We can do it now.