Like many people, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I learned of the horrible events that occurred on the day to which we now refer as 9/11. The idea of our civilian population being attacked by foreign terrorists was something we as a people thought could not truly happen to us, at least not with any success, but it did happen. While there are stark differences between that day and the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii December 7, 1941, this is the event to which my mind makes a connection.
Obviously, the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese pulled the United States fully into the Second World War, one we tried in vain to avoid. Once we as a country were committed, everyone rolled up his or her sleeves and did what had to be done. I’m not here to debate that all of the things our country did during this time period of war were morally or ethically correct, but decisions were made and acted upon during a time of hard choices. Four years later, the war was over and our country not only got back to business as usual, but Americans also got about the business of becoming the most powerful country in the world. The men and women in the generation who led us through this time period have become known as “The Greatest Generation,” and in my opinion, that name is a perfect fit for those Americans.
Now, 12 years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, how have we changed as a country? What lessons have we learned? What lessons did we have the opportunity to learn and failed to do so? For a brief moment, brief in terms of a twelve-year span, I saw Americans pulling together and showing love and concern for each other better than anytime that I can remember. I was proud to be an American. All too quickly, we as a country returned to business as usual – not the business of becoming better and greater as did our post-WW II predecessors, but we returned to the politics of self-interest rather than the good of the people, to the quest for money without care for ethics, to the lifestyle of entitlement rather than fair work for a fair wage, and I could go on.
In the events of the last week, I think we and the world see that the direction our country has taken post 9/11; it has gone quite the opposite direction of what happened in America post WW II. Instead of strong leaders who set good examples, we have weak, selfish, and self-centered leaders lacking commitment and integrity from all political parties. In years to come, we may come to be known as “The Weakest Generation” or “The Most Selfish Generation?”
Because of lessons not learned by this generation, what is the future of our country? Is this the end of the America I have known and loved, or is it not too late to adjust our course? It is my suggestion that we pull back and clean our own house, repair our own structure, and take care of our own people rather than trying to take care of the world. We are of no use to the world if we cannot heal ourselves first.
Have a blessed and happy day!