Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What We Learn From the Convergence of 9-11, the Syria Decision, and the Jewish Days of Repentance

My photo at Seattle's Safeco Field taken 9-11-05
It's a Jewish principle that when things come in threes, they're symbols for past, present and future.

Today is the convergence of three emotionally-charged events, and the "principle of threes" seems to hold.

With the twelfth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and United Flight 93, we recall the shock of our vulnerability, and continue to mourn the horrendous losses perpetrated by al-Qaeda suicide bombers. This is our reminder of the past, even as it influences our lives daily via ongoing security precautions and suspicion.

In the present, politicians and pundits mull the best response to Syria's use of poison gas on its populace. Secretary of State John Kerry says he'll meet with Russia to work out an agreement in which Syria would surrender its gas stores. This after his urging a "limited air strike" that Pres. Obama pushed as recently as last night: "The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use," the President broadcast.

Pres. Obama justifying 'limited air strike' on Syria, 9-10-13
Meanwhile, both Republicans and Democrats remain divided on whether an expensive gesture so long after Assad's Aug. 21 chemical attack would accomplish anything other than repeat the displeasure Pres. Obama has already expressed. However, now that Russia has Syria's acquiescence on the possibility of relinquishing its chemical weapons, the President's argument for his "limited air strike" seems wimpy and even irrelevant.

The present includes tension and potential for frightening--or peaceful--consequences.

The third simultaneous occurrence is the Jewish "Ten Days of Repentance," in which we search our souls, redress our wrongs and beg God and those we harmed for forgiveness. We hold that certain times of year are imbued with spiritual characteristics, and these days just before Yom Kippur, the most fateful in our calendar, brim with intensity, not only because of our personal evaluation and correction, but because our sincerity and effort will determine events in the coming year. In other words, our contrition and resolve to do better now will influence what happens to us in the coming months: the future.

Today is an opportunity to mourn and learn from 9-11; to discern carefully and ask for guidance as law-makers make the decision about Syria; and to right our personal courses in anticipation and preparation for consequences in the future.

Here in the Northwest, summer's heat lingers, even as the leaves on maples burnish. The beauty of God's physical world is vibrant and apparent. His influence on non-material events is easy to dismiss, but just as pertinent. Perhaps some sensitivity to the confluence of the physical and the spiritual can improve the chances that these three coalesce for the best.

1 comment:

  1. Google search says you have a new blog post 5 days ago? Looking forward to reading it :)