posted on September 11, 2011 08:00
At the end of Stephen King’s mega-book The Stand, two characters who survived a massive flu epidemic reflect on whether humanity is any better off after launching civilization anew.
“Will we ever learn anything?” one character asks somewhat rhetorically, noting how power, greed and reckless ambition again are dominating the populace. The other character thinks for a moment, and then simply replies, “I don’t know.” The book ends with this same latter character ruminating on his response. I don’t know.
10 years after Sept. 11, 2001, is the world better off and have we learned anything? From my perspective, it’s a mixed bag.
American soil has not suffered another terrorist attack; and yet, thousands have died in other lands. Saddam and Osama are dead, but so are countless other innocent people. Americans have come together at various episodes for the cause of freedom and collective mourning, and yet seem more divided than ever before.
We’ve raised millions to support those left behind by the 9-11 tragedy, and yet our country—and much of the western world—is suffering from egregious fiscal irresponsibility. Many persons have turned toward spiritual introspection in the wake of the attacks, but many continue to feel lost, alienated and generally pessimistic about the future.
What has not changed since Sept. 10, 2001?
The human heart still is capable of darkness and light, often in the same day or even the same hour. The fragmentation of modern existence remains a massive hurdle to be overcome by purposeful, intentional living. Individuals still have a compulsive tendency to react rather than step back and allow critical thinking to rule the day.
In other words, we remain on the journey. In the midst of our travels, I pray we provide the same amount—if not more—of the grace, mercy and compassion to each other that we hope to receive in return.