“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.” – Philippians 4
(featured image found on the Internet – photographer unattributed)
September Eleven is always going to be a date that is evocative, it’s always going to bring that day – images, memories, and feelings – into sharp focus. One, ten, fifty years on and I will continue to see clearly and feel again that tight knot in my stomach as the scenario unfolded over the surreal morning until the twin towers crumbled into clouds of dust and debris and we were all left stunned and reeling.
I remember gathering for a prayer service along with the Lutheran Church down the street and the Episcopalians too. My friend Nathan and I were asked to do special music and we played “How Great thou art,” and then the classic Eagles tune, “Love will keep us alive.”
That was seventeen very quick years ago. That number is stuck in my head this morning because I remember that our daughter, Naomi, had just turned seventeen at the time. She has now lived exactly half her life in a post-9/11 world. Funny thing is I really don’t think of her as any older – just grown up with another lifetime of experience and wisdom on hand.
The next day the Tampa Tribune published a commentary I had penned in response to the previous day’s series of attacks and it led to the first death threats I ever received as a newspaper columnist. People get testy when they perceive their entire way of life as being under attack. There was a lot of fear going around in 2001 but then there was a lot of unity too. We thought we knew where the threat was coming from and that common focus brought people together.
In 2018 we face other threats:
Today, September 11, 2018, I’m concerned that we as a nation are facing a more sinister and complex long-term danger than we were seventeen years ago:
- the unwillingness of our leaders to work together for the common good,
- the cynical and relentless assault on truth,
- the undermining of the balance of powers in our federal system,
- the unabated blitzkrieg of trumped-up accusations designed to chip away at the Fourth Estate,
- the misuse of office to tip the scales of justice by attacking the integrity of potential opponents,
- tapping into veins of ignorance and fear for political gain,
- the encouraging of xenophobia, bigotry, prejudice, and mistrust rather than pointing to truth and facilitating reconciliation,
- numerous other violations of trust…
In my 33 years as a citizen I have voted for Republicans, I have voted for Democrats, and I have voted for Independents. And I will again in the future – all three. My concerns are not politically motivated but come instead from a place of commitment to decency, integrity, accountability, justice, love, light, liberty, goodness, and the freedom to speak.
We must not allow ourselves to be manipulated for anyone’s political agenda or grab for power. This applies to both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the growing multitude of Americans who are disillusioned by party politics yet uncertain of how to proceed.
Think. For. Yourselves. Research all sides of a narrative. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. Understand that the vast majority of journalists respect and uphold the ideals of their profession.
Then, following the words of Paul in Philippians 4, “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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Words to live by… to vote by… to hold others to account by – DEREK