ISIS fighter on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2104..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“We do not regret the things we did. In this life, that passes so rapidly. No, it was when we failed to grasp the moment. The one that never came again.”
Dvora Waysman, who has, with sweetness and insight, helped us better understand life and find its meaning, was on my mind as the current countdown to the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has been making itself felt. Yes, Dvora says to us, “life passes so rapidly,” so “take life with both your hands” because each moment will never come again.
The piercing impact of 9/11 has begun to fade somewhat, as even terror will do. What it should tell us is that the countdown of our days can always be interrupted so unexpectedly, so dramatically, we must grab hold of each 24 hours placed at our door. As 9/11 recalls pilots who learned “how to take off” but not to land, we are currently being invited to the “beheading” of an individual, an act in flaming red in pristine sand about which we can do nothing.
One of the major theological interpreters of 9/11, Arthur Magida, put it this way. “And now something indecent has happened and it strikes at the very core, not just of our nation, but at something deeper and more fragile than that; at our sense of who we are and what we are and how we are to live our lives.
We try to repair the world and it collapses down on us.”
Will we just stand by and watch as the uniqueness of humankind is being lost? A world of murder, a minute or maybe even more, has become the highlight of the TV and the Internet and, in actuality, no one seems to care enough to say “stop.” When 9/11 occurred, survivor’s guilt ran rampant because people who had not died wondered why they had been spared.
Whether it be the recent war in Israel or other incidents in which some lived but many died, or 9/11 where death ran rampant, what are the majority still alive supposed to do? One rabbi put it this way to focus more exactly on the problem: “Through many invisible channels, the mild hates, superiorities and spiritual corruptions of the ‘good people’ course into society at large and become part of its climate.” Then the rabbi noted what can happen as a result: “Sickly people with twilight minds breathe the tainted air and are stimulated to express in primitive and violent form what the generality of the population feels calmly.”
The influence of this “tainted air” has been incredible. What can we do to clean it up? Let us look deeply into ourselves and ask why we are permitting our world to be endangered. We have so much more than many of the generations before us but we are allowing our possessions to blind our eyes. We are too complacent, no longer taking initiatives which can result in change. There are blessings and curses which we must make decisions about; we must assume, as our ancestors did and as the poet noted – it is all in our hands.
Remember 9/11 and cry for those lost. Let not the “beheading” of the present become a plague infecting so many more.
“Rage on, rage on – we must find the light.” It is up to us. Let us make sure we are ready to act – not pointing to someone else with the refrain “he can do it better than I.”