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Saturday, September 10, 2011

10 Years Later: 9/11/2001

Ten years ago, I was driving to Indian Hills Middle School, during the first month of school. I was in the car with Tommy Ballard, my best friend. We heard the news that someone had crashed into the first World Trade Center, and I felt as if it was a horrible accident. Then came the second plane. And the third, into the pentagon. And the fourth, into a field in Pennsylvania.

On this ten year anniversary of one of the formative moments of my teenage life, it’s hard for me to express the horror and shock I still feel at the events. But perhaps even more important is the aftermath, 2 wars, a worldwide depression, even silly things like losing Leathermans to the TSA (3 and counting).

The first emotion I remember feeling is a desperate desire for revenge. My 13 year old self thought that someone needed to pay for that crater in the ground, and the thousands of empty places at dinner tables, work spaces, and family prayers. I remember hating Osama bin Laden, and praying that he would “get his”, that he would know something of the pain that he and his cronies had caused.

That took a long time to get over.

My next feelings were sympathy for my fellow Americans. I wanted to hug each person that had been affected, and tell them that everything would be ok. In my fledgling faith, I wanted to be able to explain that this was all a part of a divine unfolding, that God was the Gardener, and He knew what was best.

That desire hasn’t left me. I still know that God is in control, and that He has a plan for all of His children. But my faith has developed to the point where I can see that God has a plan, but that it includes the perspective that He allows us to make mistakes, even ones that cost the lives of thousands of His children. God, in His wisdom, will “force no man to heaven,” but endows each of his sons and daughters with the dangerous ability to choose what each person wanted to do for himself.

In God’s wisdom, in His patience in allowing us to even kill one another thinking that we are doing Him a service, (See John 16:2) He reminds us that those who do so “have not known the Father, nor me” (John 16:3). It would also be wise to remember that Athiests, Jews, Christians, and Mormon have all supported and participated events that are not representative of their beliefs and principles. Again, God allows us to choose. It is tragic at times, but beautiful at others.

We MUST choose to do one thing, and that is forgive. We cannot become embroiled in bitterness or apathy towards others. We must not think “God will punish them, and I am justified in feeling how I feel.” That’s the most un-Christlike, unkind thing a person can do.

We MUST turn to God, like this woman has.

Sandy's Story

We MUST love our fellow men, because we love God, or if we don’t believe in God, because we believe in doing the best we can.

It takes time to heal. It may take longer for some to forgive, but peace will bind the broken heart, if that peace is sought in the proper way (John 14:26-27, 16:33).

A modern day Apostle, George F. Richards, taught us something concerning forgiveness, by relating a dream he had experienced:

“I dreamed that I and a group of my associates found ourselves in a courtyard where, around the outer edge of it, were German soldiers--the Fuehrer Adolph Hitler was there with his group, and they seemed to be sharpening their swords and cleaning their guns, and making preparations for a slaughter of some kind, or an execution. We knew not what, but, evidently we were the objects.
But presently a circle was formed and this Fuehrer and his men were all within the circle, and my group and I were circled on the outside, and when we walked around and I got directly opposite to him I stepped inside the circle and walked across to where he was sitting and spoke to him, in a manner something like this, "I am your brother. You are my brother. In our heavenly home we lived together in love and peace. Why can we not so live here on the earth?"
And it seemed to me that I felt in myself, welling up in my soul, a love for that man, and I could feel that he was having the same experience, and presently he arose, and we embraced each other and kissed each other, a kiss of affection.
I think the Lord gave me that dream. Why should I dream of this man, one of the greatest enemies of mankind, and one of the wickedest, but that the Lord should teach me that I must love my enemies, and I must love the wicked as well as the good" (General Conference, October 1946).

This dream was less than a year after Victory-in-Europe Day. If people could find it in their hearts to forgive Hitler, and all those who had wronged them in this world war, we MUST find it in our hearts to forgive others.