I was engaged to be married when it all happened. CavWife to be was teaching in NW NJ, and could see the smoke from the parking lot. One of her students were among the few that lost parents in the building. Thankfully my parents decided to extend their stay in NH because they were booked on the flight out of Boston to LA that day.
Many of us have stories. There are faces we see, video clips that can never be erased from our minds. But I want to consider who we are, or have become in the last 12 years.
In October 2001, we had an engagement party at my future in-laws’ home. That was the day we began the invasion of Afghanistan. We have yet to leave. We have been fighting there my entire married life, forgetting one of the great blunders: don’t get involved in a land war in Asia.
America is increasingly weary of war. We have watched too many of our young people come home in body bags or missing limbs. We seem to have an entire generation suffering from PTSD.
We did need to strike back, to bring some measure of justice and to defend our nation. However, a “war on terror” is rather vague. I could see a war on Al Qaeda, but not “terror.” Our shock and awe was used against us, so to speak. We didn’t fight the right people, but we couldn’t see that as clearly then. We didn’t fight them the right way. Yes, we got part of it right. We did seek out their financial resources and dried up quite a bit of that. But when you are not fighting a nation it makes no sense to invade nations. The inconsistent interventionism that we didn’t really like became a greater part of our national life.
Since that day we have forfeited any number of rights, resulting in the loss of any number of hours waiting in line for the Kafka-esque security searches to take place. Our paranoia met our political correctness and resulted in a disconcerting lack of common sense.
We have seen the government grow even bigger. No government has ever wasted a crisis as an attempt to grow its power. No government has ever willingly and voluntarily given back power to its citizens (and only a handful have given back $$$). Statism has increased, and that concerns me greatly. As Statism increases, personal freedom and rights diminish. In the pursuit of security, we have paid too high a price, in my opinion.
Some of that is in the form of the Patriot Act and the growth of the NSA. I’ve changed my views on the Patriot Act. At first I thought “I have nothing to hide.” But that really isn’t the point. I think the last few years have shown us that sinful people in positions of such authority tend to abuse it. We have NSA workers checking up on girlfriends. We have seen the IRS used to stymie political opponents in increasing fashion. Are you sure they won’t use what you’ve look at, search for or inadvertently stumbled upon against you some day? They do it to political opponents.
I guess I’ve seen America turn upside down in the last 12 years. While we are technically still at war with Islamic terrorists, it is Christians that our nation seems to have turned its back against in its social agendas. It is Christians that it has turned its back on in its foreign policy as we support regimes and rebels (often Islamic) who slaughter people based on the fact they worship Christ, not because they wield weapons against them.
America has become, in many ways, more of what the Islamic terrorists hated in the first place. We continue to intervene in their corner of the world under the guise of “national security.” We continue the downward moral slide as we have no longer merely normalized adultery and fornication but now homosexuality (and ponder for a second what comes next).
Our government is even more tied into cronyism. Just check out who gets exemptions from measures from the Affordable Healthcare Act. Lobbyist groups were essential in the passing of that bill that really doesn’t seem to be helping most Americans, but actually crippling them financially while limiting their healthcare options. The increased transparency we have been promised has not happened. It is worse. We have to see bills passed before we can know what is in them. We see claims of “phony scandals” while the government pursues really made up crises.
We talk about the rule of law, but enforcement of those laws is at the whim of the executive branch that increasingly grabs more power to pursue its agenda. “By the people and for the people” has been lost.
It has also turned upside down in other ways. Suddenly we have John Kerry, a dove for 40 years, turning into a hawk. We have seen welfare and food stamps become desirable instead of viewed as a “necessary evil” to get us through hard times. Hard work has been de-incentivized.
Do you feel “lost” yet? Perhaps “dazed and confused” is a better term. I know I am more jaded with politics, struggling with cynicism feeling like our leaders really aren’t on our side.
But there is an opportunity here. Statism can’t deliver on its promises of earthly salvation. The increasingly crushing power of the State enables us to point to Jesus as the good King who dies for His people before He asks them to risk for Him. He is the one King who rules out of the best interest of His people instead of Himself. There are gospel opportunities here.
Those gospel opportunities may bring real risks, like for the early church (and the church in many places around the world). To be truly subversive, we will have to stand for something different than the American Dream with Jesus tacked on for good measure. We will have to challenge the status quo and many aspects of the “social progress”. We will pay the price for not being PC. However, I think we will bear much more fruit as people come to a saving knowledge of Christ. We will be be more faithful to Christ. We have to remember that we are always at the crossroads between conformity to Christ and conformity to the world.