When I think of what it means to be a good Christian or even just a good human, that period after the towers fell, those quiet moments of communal grief, somehow come back to me. Same thing happened after the Giffords nearly-assassination and even when watching Joe Biden talk about losing his son.
Nothing quite compares to the raw honesty of those moments.
Vapid reality stars, bombastic simpletons posing as presidential candidates, angry Internet memes and conspiracy theorists. These are the little devils of our nature that too-often dominate everyday life.
But we are better than that.
How do I know? Because on September 1, 2001 (or November 22, 1963, or December 7, 1941), we all stopped for a moment as one nation and reacted to something that was bigger than ourselves. And in the way we reacted, we were not petty, we were not hateful. We were understanding, we were thoughtful, we were kind.
In the days after 9/11, the better angels of our nature took control and lead us (temporarily) down a better path. Eventually, we had to move on and the grind of our daily routines took over, as did those little devils.
I wish it didn’t take an unspeakable tragedy or its anniversary to bring us together like we were in the days after.
I wish it didn’t take an arbitrary date or an obligation to a Church to teach so many of us what ethical behavior, good morals, mean.
I wish it didn’t take a loss of life to get us to be supportive and understanding of those living around us.
And I wish it didn’t take a good speech or a deadline to remind us of any of this.
We can be a better people, us Americans. Because we have been before. I am not ready to believe we’ve irreparably changed away from that, even if the memory of what happened on this day 14 years ago has become heavily politicized and endemic of intractable partisanship in our body politic.
We can do better, our politicians can do better. It’s high time we raise our expectations and aspire to be the better nation we all know we can be.