We recently remembered the 20th anniversary of 9-11-01.
I saw all the sentiments on Facebook stating that “we will never forget.” I would argue that we have forgotten. We have forgotten what it means to be an American. We even have car magnets that profess we will not forget, but we have. If we haven’t forgotten, why do we buy in to hate? If we haven’t forgotten, why do we loathe fellow Americans who have diversity in their beliefs? Why do we hate our elected officials and those who seek to help and protect?
I am not saying that all within our institutions and power structures are perfect or without need of reform, but do we truly believe there are none among our elected officials and public servants who seek to help, to protect, and to serve? If we haven’t forgotten, why do we buy into conspiracy theories and false claims that instead of seeking to bring truth they bring division and hate heaped upon hate? We will never forget, but we have. We forget each time we post social media content that breeds division and false information. Just because we have access to a search tool and can type, doesn’t take the place of using our head and heart before we post.
We started to forget long before Covid-19, QAnon, or the national election of 2020. We started forgetting even before Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden. We have lost our way. We began to forget the day we started seeing each other as less than human. The day we allowed our ideologies or affiliations to become more important than our humanity. We started to forget the moment that information on the internet meant more than what we know to be true about the interactions with our neighbor.
The heroes on Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania remembered that being someone who loves their country goes beyond politics and the lies that divide us. They were looking at proof that outside influences had taken control of the flight and our nation’s capital was in the cross hairs. Unfortunately, today the threat comes from within. We are now in the crosshairs because we have turned on each other. From all the conversations that took place on Flight 93 that day, that was logged via the airphones on board, not one seemed to indicate which heroes voted for George Bush or Al Gore in the contested 2000 election. Instead, they voted as a majority to move and attack the hijackers which spared innocent lives in Washington, D.C.
If you truly want to “never forget” then I suggest that we all better start remembering. Let’s remember what it looks like to love our neighbor. Let’s remember what it looks like to think before we speak (or post on social media). My faith informs my life and I hope my faith is reflected in the ways I treat others. I end my thoughts with a verse from the sacred texts of my Christian heritage Philippians Chapter 4 verse 8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Travis Smith is the executive director of Blue Ridge Hope, a local non-profit that seeks to connect individuals with resources that will help them be successful in attaining their emotional goals, reconciling personal loss, and developing health and wholeness. Their website is www.blueridgehope.org