Five years ago, on Sept. 11, one of my members, Sally Rajamaki, called me at the church office to ask me to turn on the television. I did and then watched the Twin Towers burn and fall over and over and over again with my staff. Shock, anxiety, anger and fear permeated the air. Later that day, I drove through the communities of my parish: Peoa, Kamas, Heber, Park City, Coalville, offering up a prayer for the people who live there, for their families and children. I had the sense that our world had profoundly changed.
Now I am not so sure whether the world changed or whether we, as a nation, simply were awakened by the world in a horrible way.
This last week I took part in the peace rally in Salt Lake City where I heard Mayor Rocky Anderson speak and our own Rich Wyman sing and play. I was impressed. I was also privileged to be at the tarmac that same night when President Bush arrived in the darkness from the north on Air Force One to the sounds of classical music. He was charismatic and impassioned in his short speech. I was impressed.
Both events were well scripted. That was the problem. I wish that the two groups could have talked to each other. Even more, I wish that the two groups could have listened to each other. But then I also have to ask, "Do I listen?"
I have an eight-year-old daughter, Emma. She is my lens for this anniversary. What sort of world will she inherit? How can I, as a citizen of the United States, a father and a pastor, make it a better world, not just for her, but for other nations? To do this, I am committed to learning more about Iraq, Iran, Islam and the Middle East. I am committed to learning more about our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And I hope that I can listen.
This question also haunts me: "What makes us secure?" Military might? Economic strength? Political power? Commitments to certain ways of living and thinking? Religious faith?
When people are afraid, or are made to be afraid, they are willing to give up freedoms for "security." Of course then they have neither freedom nor security.
So on this anniversary I will seek to be a better student and advocate of those things that truly give us freedom, set us free from fear, and offer hope to the world: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, open conversation between cultures, a commitment to justice for all, to the well-being of all children, to telling the truth and to religious truth that is centered in compassion and mercy and humility. I hope it is enough.
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“History buffs will tell you that Park City suffered many devastating fires fanned by canyon winds,” writes Andrea Barros. “It could happen again if we do not reduce wildfire fuel.”