Sunday, September 11, 2011

When you grow up

A corn tassel has matured, sending its pollen to the wind, creating good fruit on the stalks that surround it.

When you are ten, you begin realize that you can start to converse with adults as a peer.  I distinctly remember being around that age and realizing that I could make an adult laugh.  You are growing taller, not quite little enough for the playground, but not ready to sit on the side with the adults.  A ten year old has experienced enough of life to begin to glimpse what it might be like to be grown up.

I have a son who is ten.  Ten years ago, on the eleventh of September, Isaac was not yet one year old.  He does not remember being awakened by the radio announcing the attacks, or watching the news anchor in complete shock relay the news as it unfolded.  He will not remember it the way that I, or any other adult at that time will.  To him, it is a historical event.  It is a terrible thing that he asks about with questioning, trying to understand how it could happen.  But he does not have the memory of the fear that froze our country that day.  Instead, he reads a book about it, just as we might look at a book telling of the Holocaust and World War II.  It is with wide eyed shock that he takes in the devastation.  It is easier to think of it as a story.  He knows that his uncles were soldiers, and that they came home safely, but he knows that across the world, it is still not safe.  His life is peaceful, but he knows there is not peace.

Somewhere in Afghanistan, somewhere in Iraq, there is a boy who is ten.  He has lost an uncle, a brother in this war, or the one before it.  He has been raised in a battlefield.  He sees sadness in the eyes of his grandmother and his mother. He has never known a country that is free, where it is always safe to go out in public.  He sees foreign military and local soldiers everywhere he goes.  He hears people speak of America, some good things, some bad.  He likes the American soldiers.  They are funny.  He does not understand fully what brought them to his country.   He knows it is the war, but he just wants to go outside, to kick his ball, to play with his friends.  He does not know when the uncertainty will end, when his country will stand on its own.  He lives the life he has always known.

These boys will all grow up to know of 9/11 as my generation understands Vietnam, as my parents' generation understands World War II, as their parents understood World War I and as their parents understood the Civil War.  They see the recent and real wounds caused, but they cannot change them, nor can they fully feel their pain.  They know that they do not want this hurt to remain, or to repeat itself.

  The boys will begin to understand the anguish that day wrought, and still continues to bring.  They will start to realize that there is a world outside of what they know,  and maybe they will begin to understand the pain that throbs still beneath the scars on both sides of the globe.  Maybe they will be the ones to bring the peace.  Will it take that long?  How do you stop a war, when you don't quite know who the enemy might be?

Our country is just the same. We are maturing and understanding that we are not alone in the world, and that our actions are not self contained.  We have experienced the growing pains of many wars.  We have felt the shock of foreign attack on our soil from Pearl Harbor to New York.   We have been rescuer and protector, even when we felt we weren't prepared.  We have known the consequences of poor choices, from the dustbowl to the current financial crisis.

We are growing up.  We are learning from trials we've endured, and those we've watched others walk through, and we want change.  It is important that we hold on to this.  This will never be a perfect world, because we are a fallen, broken people, but we can strive for the ideals set forth in the founding of this nation.  We can do our best to serve God the best way we can, in showing the kind of compassionate love that Jesus was all about.

We should not forget that there are children in our battlefields, and for their sake, we have to work with others in compassion, forgiveness, and sometimes even compromise.  It will be a wonderful day when there is a generation of children who do not know the confusion and sadness of war in the eyes of their elders.  In this way, senseless acts of war and terrorism can begin to be redeemed, through our commitment to live our lives in such a way as to point with hope to the ultimate Peacemaker.  He can bring rest in our restless world.

1 comment:

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