The goal of terrorism is to disrupt the normal activities of a group by paralyzing its members with fear. A decade later we can look back on the terror attacks of 9/11 with both historic and Christian perspective.
The World Trade Center towers in New York represented the financial strength of capitalism. The Pentagon in D.C. is the headquarters of our nation’s military prowess. And while the target of Flight 93 is subject to speculation, the White House and Capitol buildings are the literal seat of our Federal Government. Not only would large numbers of individuals be injured and killed, our very institutions would also be under attack. Nearly 3,000 lives ended as a direct result of terrorist action, a reality that should not be downplayed. But in another sense the ultimate goal of the 9/11 terrorists was never achieved. Even while our buildings were collapsing our resolve grew stronger.
FDR said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. On 9/11 we saw firefighters, police officers and even civilians put themselves deliberately into harm’s way to help others. The current condition of our economy can only be considered a “recession” when compared to our own previous levels of economic profits. No other economy in the world operates at the U.S. level of production, growth and profitability. Sadam Hussein is dead; Osama bin Laden is dead; the War on Terror continues to identify and apprehend conspirators around the world. The post 9/11 world is a different place, such that an event on that scale could not occur today in the United States.
The American spirit – our patriotism and determination – is not in buildings made of mortar and steel. What makes us rich is not housed in banks, just like our freedom and liberty are not structures in D.C. Recall the resolve of London during World War II. Even while British cities were leveled to rubble, its people would not give in to Hitler’s Germany. Their buildings fell but not their spirit. Al Qaeda failed to terrify the American people; if any thing they only made us mad. The goal of terrorism is fear, and rather than blow us apart the attacks on 9/11 drew the American people together. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
How about a Christian perspective? I feel pretty good about the strength and resolve of our nation, even in the current political and economic climate. But our hope is not in kings or kingdoms of this world. If our buildings and our nation falls, as Christians we are ambassadors of God’s Kingdom, a kingdom not made with hands. Our hope is not in this life. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” -Matthew 10:28 God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
The 9/11 terror attacks failed to intimidate our nation. Christians do not fight against flesh and blood, but against power and principalities, and spiritual evil in high places (Ephesians 6). We will not forget… and we will not fear.