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The Real Tragedy of the World Trade Center

World Trade Center illustration

Sometimes even a poorly delivered message is still one worth hearing, and I wonder if the the saddest thing about the whole tragedy is that we didn’t get the message.

We like to think of ours as a nation made strong through the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, but in reality we’re strong because of our unscathed ability to exploit, oppress, capitalize and conquer—all the while repressing any hint of remorse that might ever creep in (which I’m sure is slowly creating a collective psychological condition that will catch up with us when our nation hits mid-life).

It is those very national values to which these impassioned soldiers gave their lives opposing—hurling themselves and thousands others into the afterlife in a hail-mary attempt to send a message that would surely change me and you and our country and the entire western world.

I think it’d be redundant for me to say how wrong and awful and horrific and terrible their medium was.

Poorly delivered.

What I can’t stop thinking about today is that I have to admit that I’m not so different from them. The very mores of my own culture that they (and countless other fundamentalists around the world) despise are the same things that make me less than “proud to be an American.” I hate our misplaced, terrorizing commitment to the lie that we like to call “the American dream.”

So maybe I should do something big? To send a message to my brothers and sisters, my neighbors and countrymen? the world?

A Ha! Right there is the ever-so-fine line distinguishing my condition from these men… where they had been convinced through faith, philosophy and culture that the only way to get this message across was a monumental act of violence, I’ve been convinced through the very same influences that the only hope anyone will ever hear the truth is through monumental acts of peace.

So have we heard the message?

A few definitely have. You’ve seen it this past decade in young people and gen-x’ers and boomers and even octogenarians envigored with compassion for the weary, oppressed, fatherless and hopeless.

But as a whole… as a community, a nation.. I think the ringing in our ears left by the blast deafened us to what it was pleading.

We missed it.

When the foundations of these skyscrapers is now a “monument” of not one, but five new towers to prosperity?

Five new Asherah poles erected in all their phallic glory? America’s middle finger held high as a vertiable “eff you” to the rest of the world (or at least the parts to which we don’t owe money).

All the while we gather around them worshipping with orgies and infant sacrifices, praying to the gods for prosperity, prosperity, prosperity…

For in prosperity there is power. In power there is confidence. In confidence there is security. In security there is comfort.

And in comfort—we believe—we can finally achieve the pentultimate prize, the true American dream.

To die, fully reclined in our La-Z-Boy.

World Trade Center, limited edition giclee print is available in my shop.

Comments

trinity
Reply

This has been the best thing I’ve read all day(outside of our churches liturgy this morning). I think what I find just as disturbing is where are our churches in all of this? Why are we working so hard to protect something that we were never asked to protect?

I’ve often wondered if believers would step back, re-read the gospels, and truly apply them, how would things be different? Christ spent three fervent years teaching all those around him how to live for eternity. And his greatest commandment was “to love your neighbor as yourself” Not “love our nation”, not “love our republicans”, and not “love the american dream”.

What “revival” (that’s a phrase that was used often from where I’m from) our “american dream” could experience if we just had that one commandment lived out by those who believe. And what beautiful rest and comfort that all would experience when we would not look for any dream here but as paul says “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Phil.3:20-21)

Tiffany
Reply

Thanks for posting this. It helped me put my finger on the nauseous feeling I was getting during all the 9-11 memorial programming.

We should be mourning the tragedy that instead of using this event to foster a renewed value of life… a new hatred of violence. We simply fought back with even more violence, more bloodshed, more sons and daughters and brothers and sisters who lost their lives. Why is it better when we’re the ones dropping the bombs, when we’re the ones pulling the triggers?

Thanks again. Really wise words. Really poetic. I loved this.

Jason
Reply

Disappointed with your post! We should not be demonized as a nation because of our prosperity. This overwhelming socialist mindset is sickening. There are some things I can definitely agree to within your post. As a part of the body of Christ we have misplaced our values. We have sacrificed the fundamentals (not the “fundamentalist” fundamentals) of our faith for a man-centered religious exercise rather than an intimate relationship with our Creator.

As a nation, why should we hold others in contempt because of their prosperity. Everyone has the same opportunity. Some make the most of it, others don’t. If there is nothing great about America and we have nothing to offer, then why are so many people trying to be a part of our country?

Personally there are two distinctions here. The Body of Christ and America as a nation.

As a whole there are a couple of lessons to be learned from your post, but in it’s entirety it is more of an “eat the meat and spit out the bones” situation. And there were far more bones than meat!

God has blessed America, may He continue to do so! May the Body of Christ rise to the job at hand (which has never changed). May we never fall prey to the socialist/communal mindset that it is evil for someone to prosper or that it is someone else’s responsibility to subsidize my wants, or more tragically demonize them for not doing so.

Truly Disappointed!

Geoff Malicoat
Reply

I had forgotten how great this post was, and reading the comments, I am reminded how folks believe calling something “socialist” makes their point, somehow, someway.

Three thousandish people died that day. Sad?..Yeah, I suppose. But since then the US Military has murdered hundreds of thousands of women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan while we have let tens of thousands of our own citizens die unnecessarily because of lack of access to proper medical care.

AJ
Reply

Geoff “Three thousandish people died that day. Sad?..Yeah, I suppose. But since then the US Military has murdered hundreds of thousands of women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan while we have let tens of thousands of our own citizens die unnecessarily because of lack of access to proper medical care.”

“Sad.. Yeah, I suppose.” ???

Why do we need to diminish the loss of life in one instance to prove our point for another? All life is sacred and it seems to me that to diminish one loss to highlight another is contrary to the point of this blog and darkly ironic.

Scott
Reply

I agree that we missed the point. I think you put into words what I have been feeling. I don’t typically quote Stephen Colbert but this quote comes to mind: “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus is just as selfish as we are or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition. And then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” Thanks for writing this Troy and your illustration is amazing.

Jason
Reply

Please show me where it is the government’s obligation to provide health care for everyone! What a wide-eyed view into the twisted welfare driven nation we have created. Welfare has gone from being a help to those in need to a nationally driven entitlement. There are other/cheaper alternatives in other countries, but the overall economic and social living conditions are much worse. Nothing keeps your feet glued to American soil. If the grass is truly greener on the other side, then migrate to the other pasture.

I find it very interesting how patriotic and God conscious people were immediately following 9/11 and how quickly God and country are forgotten when we don’t get what we want. Our country was founded and established by men and women who were willing to give their lives for freedom not welfare and socialism. I find that that the term “socialism” adequately describes what I am reading in previous posts.

If America is so bad, why stay here? Nothing and no one demands that you remain here. I have learned through international travel that there may be many problems in America, but they are minute in comparison the the living conditions around the rest of the world. Again, only an entitlement mentality says that America owes you something, which is probably a good temperature gauge for our current condition.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Troy
Reply

Jason, did you intend to comment on a different post? There’s nothing “socialist” in this post, is there?

rufus
Reply

Jason….just pointing out what’s wrong with America (and more specifically the Church in America) is not the equivalent of saying there is anywhere better out there….we point it out because this is us…it’s who WE…me and you are and we need to always be looking at what we’re doing wrong and can do better. That’s the responsibility of the Church no matter what country we’re in.

Jason
Reply

This was the post I intended to post to!

Troy
Reply

hmm.. well I’m not exactly sure where you’re coming from then. i don’t make any reference to wealth distribution or a particular individual’s right to economic prosperity. i’m writing in reference to our larger culture’s worship of prosperity, and our collective unwillingness to recognize that it hasn’t come necessarily as a result of only our own diligence or ingenuity (or God’s blessing), but rather from centuries of human and natural resource exploitation.

In addition, I’m emphasizing the value on which we place economic “success” and our propensity for worshipping money and self-preservation.

Is there something in particular misleading about how I’ve attempted to shed light on those issues?

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