"The Day the World Changed"
My journey of "Never Forgetting" September 11, 2001, starts during my freshman year of college. I wake to the sound of my roommate running down the hallway of our dorm. He turns on the television, and says, "You have to see this!" We both sat in silence watching the events that took place that morning, one day that will never be forgotten.
Now here we are, just past the 12th anniversary of 9/11. On this anniversary I found my social media feeds filling up with the phrase, "Never Forgive, Never Forget." Posted by evangelical friends no less. It's become one of the rallying cries of America surrounding this tragedy. But, what does this reveal about the culture we live in?
This year, as in the past eleven, the phrase comes up on the anniversary of the attacks, and lingers for a while in updates and social media feeds. What worries me is not the phrase "Never Forget." Mass murder shouldn't be forgotten. It's the phrase "Never Forgive" that troubles me. Can Christians post "Never Forgive" on our social media accounts, while at the same time preaching forgiveness in our churches? Is there another message that we can proclaim in the shadow of tragedy?
"Never Forgive, Never Forget"
People and cultures remember. It is an important part of who we are; our lives find meaning in the memories we create and keep. But since the tragedy of 9/11, it seems we've come to be increasingly defined by unforgiveness. Many Americans seem to believe that what took place on September 11th has given them the right to hurl racist insults, harbor racist feelings, and in general, to spew forth hatred.
In a recent study, the Barna group found that 12 years after 9/11 "preventing terrorism" ranks equal to or more important than healthcare, immigration, and education. We are on the watch for anything that is a "terror attack" (gunman enters elementary school and Boston Marathon bombing, as two recent examples) and this guides much of what we do and say even if we are not consciously aware of the influence.
Some may be surprised that the study shows that Millennials prioritize preventing terrorism above social concerns. Even though most of them were teens or children at the time of the attack, preventing terrorism is the top priority for them. Why? Perhaps because they grew up in a new era defined by the struggle against terrorism. Though older Americans generally respond with more anger over the attacks, the commonality between these two groups though is the use of the popular phrase "Never Forgive, Never Forget."
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