We all remember where we were when the planes hit the world trade centre on September 11. It is etched into all our memories; what we did, what we thought, how it changed us.
I was in bed. I had had a late night, and my sister called me at about eight in the morning. ‘How can you be sleeping? It could be the end of the world!’
I thought she was being dramatic. But when I turned on the tv and saw the horror unfolding before my eyes, I realised how very right she might be.
I can hardly believe it’s been ten years, and yet, I struggle to remember how we lived before. I was telling my eight year old about it, and she has no concept. The world has always been this way for her, and for me, well I too am forgetting.
What was it like to live our lives without the fear of terrorism?
I live in Darwin; it’s a small town, seemingly inconsequential. I can’t imagine that anyone would see any point in planning any kind of attack here, and yet…
When I enter our one major shopping centre at Christmas time, and it is full to overflowing, always in the back of my mind is a niggling doubt.
Will I get out of this shopping centre alive?
Will I see Christmas?
Is someone going to blow me up?
I see people of middle Eastern appearance, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but sometimes it scares me. Sometimes I wonder what they believe and how passionate they are about it.
Could they do this?
September 11 changed the world.
But then there was Bali.
The list goes on.
The last few days the news has been filled with the lead up to the anniversary. And of course, with the lead up, there comes more terror threats. Extra police will be on duty, and extra security on the transport system. In many ways, New York City may actually be one of the safest places in the world tomorrow, but at what cost?
We have a lot in common with our friends over the sea, but there is one thing in particular that I have noticed. In both our national anthems, we declare freedom.
O’ver the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I’ll give them brave, but really, is America free? Are we?
Oh we have freedom of speech, and we can worship who we want, and do whatever we like, more or less.
But since September 11, the threat of terrorism hangs over our shoulders.
I for one,would think twice about going to Bali.
And being on the train in Melbourne during rush hour four years ago, was very unsettling. (I’m a small town girl.)
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one who worries. But I don’t think so. The news is enough to let us know that our authorities are constantly on the lookout for threats. To protect our lives and our freedom.
I heard once that the opposite of fear is faith.
I think the opposite of fear is freedom.
Fear holds us captive, and keeps us bound. It smothers and strangles us. It keeps us looking over our shoulder.
But freedom is liberating. It’s a cool cloth on your face on a hot day. It’s the wind in your hair. It’s life and beauty and love.
Ten years on, the world is a different place. Darker and scarier. And the fact of the matter is, although terror hasn’t claimed a large chunk of lives recently, it’s still winning. Because it holds us captive to the possibility. Today we live our lives under the banner of, ‘it could happen.’
So how do we move on from here? What happens next? How do we live our lives free, without giving the terrorists the power?
As a Christian, I don’t fear death. It has no power over me. (I am scared of pain though, and I don’t like the idea of leaving my kids behind.) Others don’t have this freedom though. Death is terrifying for them; how do they find freedom?
They follow the New York Mayors example: they don’t let it stop them. This is what I love about the American people. Yes September 11 changed them, but it also changed them in a good way. They refused to accept the attack. They fought back. President Bush may have made a lot of mistakes, and he may not have been very popular, but like a mother protects her children in the face of adversity, he stood up for the American people, and refused to back down.
Ten years later Saddam Hussein is gone, and Osama Bin Laden too. Whilst I do not delight in the death of any, sadly the world is a better place without them.
Our world may bear the shadow of terrorism, but as humans we need to push through. Freedom is an attitude as much as a circumstance. It is how we choose to live and what we choose to see. It’s the way we keep going, even when completely terrified.
Tomorrow we will all pause at some moment, no doubt, and think about where we were, and how we have changed. Hopefully, that will be the only time we pause. Hopefully there will be no further commemorative attacks.
Let’s take that moment to declare war on fear too. Let’s embrace freedom and life. Let’s decide that no matter what comes at us, we can overcome, and we can make it through.
And let’s pray, our children learn from us, and never have to witness terrorism for themselves.