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Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 09_09_2011
09/08/2011 04:08 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
September 9, 2011

 

Ten years ago, on 9/11/2001, the country sat in shock as it watched or lived through the destruction of thousands of lives and the lives they touched. It was gruesome and horrifying. Years followed with enumerable questions about the event and wars to seek answers. We thought we would find justice along the way. I don’t believe that we’ve found answers or justice yet. Not even the death of Osama bin Laden has satisfied me. My feeling is that it hasn’t satisfied you, either. It’s a start, but it’s far from over.

                In retrospect, our country has never fully recovered from it. In 2001, we were told by George W. to pretend that we were normal. We were told to go shopping, to go to school, and to travel as usual. It was abnormal behavior for anyone involved in a tragic life-changing event. We should have mourned more. Then we should have participated in rebuilding our nation’s psyche. Every faith tradition teaches their members to sacrifice something in order to rebuild a broken family or community. We all contribute money, time and energy to make a positive difference. But, ten years ago, we weren’t asked, urged or invited to pay taxes for the wars we were going to fight, or volunteer for national service beyond the armed services, or learn more about our neighbors whose religious faiths we didn’t know enough about.

                Imagine if we had done more. Our country would have been rebuilt by scores of young people able-bodied and invigorated by a call to help their country. Our wars would have been paid down by appropriate taxes to fund it. And, Muslims, especially, would have been welcomed to our communities as the neighbors they have always been. Their houses and mosques didn’t just pop up after 9/11; they, like we, have been part of the American fabric for a long time.

                My political appetite is growing sick of partisanship. I hope yours is, too. On this tenth anniversary, it’s hard to believe that we are committing what Emil Fackenheim once taught us about the years following the Holocaust. He taught us that the 614th Commandment (there are 613 in Torah) should be not to grant Hitler a posthumous victory. Our commitment to a Jewish future would forever deny him what he sought. In the last ten years, we have become a brooding, back-biting country tearing apart the very concept of what it means to be American. We should stop checking our shoes at the airport and begin bringing our 64oz sodas through security; because, economic impasses, social exploitation and political logjams will be the posthumous victory we give our enemies.

                The way forward requires so much more than we are currently experiencing in our country. The arc of history has taught us more than the brief knowledge demonstrated thus far by some of our current politicians and by most of our political candidates, or nit-wits, as someone recently described them to me. Our nation is starving for a statesman or woman to speak to us intelligently. Honesty would be welcome; so would transparency, but they don’t come without intelligence, first.

                September 11th is a day to remember. But, just as we’ve learned from so many other tragic and remarkable events in our country’s history, it is also a day to honor. Building a memorial to 9/11 is good. Building our country for the future is better. Let’s build together. Let’s serve together. Let’s know each other. Let’s demand from our political leaders in office and vying for office that mediocrity is not enough. The sweetest victory is a solid opportunity for every American to feel confident in America. That’s justice. That’s the answer I want. I think you do, too.

                May God bless our people; May God bless us and all God’s children with a week of peace. From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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