First, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson. Secondly, many Facebook requests came asking me to “post this flag to show you remember 9/11” . Third, I read a blog written by a school acquaintance “The Way of Love” http://whatsthemission.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/the-way-of-love/
These three strains are not of equal importance but somehow as I have walked in the mornings they have gotten tangled together. Let me dispense with the easiest first: On September 11, I awoke with the thought in my head that it was 9/11, and my mind went back to that morning when we were having our new roof put on but the roofer called to cancel because he wanted to watch TV! After I got over my indignation and understood what he was saying I, too, spent the day watching the TV. The next day the roofer came and we watched it together, crying in my living room. I remember, all right. I don’t have to go far to remember how it was then, I don’t have to be pushed to remember. I don’t mind putting a flag on my Facebook to show that I still care about what happened. If that’s what people are doing to cheer themselves up, I don’t mind being a part of their numbers. I did not, however, choose to post the flag because it seemed to have a political agenda attached to it and I did not know what it was or where it came from. I realize I am on thin ice with some of you here and I hope you will not take me wrong in this: I love my country and am patriotic and proud of it! But patriotism and remembering 9/11 does not belong to the “Being Conservatives” who were named as sponsors of the FB campaign. I felt that it was inappropriate to inject a political position on a day of mourning and remembrance. I probably am a conservative if you need to know that (you don’t) but caring about the people who gave or served their country , whether on 9/11 or any other day, is not the province of a particular group and I resent for all of us the suggestion that some groups ‘care’ more than others.
If I haven’t offended you yet, I probably will now. I don’t want to but it can’t be helped. I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because a group of people in a group I was travelling with were reading it for their book club. I went to the library to check it out but there were 1,200 names on the waiting list for 215 books, so I ended up buying it. By then I was doubly invested in it, book club sportsmanship and cash dollars.
The book seemed to me almost schizophrenic, two quite different story lines getting braided together but not really becoming one. I suppose that’s like a bad marriage. On the one hand we have a stoic financial journalist who appears devoid of feeling even in the most compelling situations—at least, his enthusiasm is reserved for his investigations and not the people in his world. Then we have the other main character who is his antithesis: uncommunicative until she is pushed past her limits and then violence, revenge, is her response. I wondered why she had no resources for normal communication, for talking over things with people who might have helped her early on. Her power was her hatred, now, and the suggestion is that revenge is an effective tool for achieving justice.
At first, I chose not to write a review on this book because it is graphic and deals with gross sexual offenses. Most of my blog readers and in fact my friends wouldn’t read this book or wouldn’t finish it. But everywhere I go now I see people reading it and I know there are a lot of people on the wait list at the library, so I speak to it.
It is horrific, what people do to other people, whether by cheating them for their own profit, or by overpowering them physically for their own gratification. And one generation hardly has time to clean up the mess of the previous generation’s (meanwhile creating their own) before they die out. So it goes in this story, trying to rectify the past.
I noticed the similarity of the landscape, frozen, cold, wintery Sweden to the character of Blomkvist, the investigator, and the quick-paced, impulsive Lisbeth echoes the helter-skelter city. I realized this morning how particularly loveless this book was: there were human families and sexual relationships but even in the back history to the current story the family life was paltry, unloving and worse, hateful. The elderly are staid and immovable(frozen), the younger ones are out of control: so, in effect, what is the solution?
Which brings me to the blog I read on a proper response to being wounded or attacked. “The Way of Love” suggests that turning the other cheek is the only way we can regain the kind of world we want to live in. We have been offended, certainly, both attacked and wounded personally by individuals and corporately by political extremists. What do we do with all this hate which has ignited a spirit of retaliation in us?
Revenge is a common instinct, but although it may satisfy our sense of fairness, what does it promote? More hate, more fear, more violence. The verse I keep thinking of is “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.” (Romans 12:19) How will He repay? Will He do it harshly, like I want Him to, to make those awful people suffer? Do I trust Him, or do I need to be in charge of the way He is doing things? Can I trust Him to be the Judge of others?
This is so hard. I am such a lover of justice that I spend a lot of time sputtering fruitlessly when I hear how other people have been offended. It bugs me when people are taken advantage of financially and I want redress. So it is not my first reaction to respond lovingly to wrong doing or doers.
But God’s Word says: “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” (I Thess. 5:15) And the 2 basic tenets of the Christian faith are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we would love ourselves.” (Matthew 22:39)
Furthermore, the way of forgiveness and love is the way to joy! "Judge not , and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."
The great danger of anger is bitterness and revenge, wounds which destroy us as well as those around us. Even “righteous anger” needs to be expressed in a righteous way. Let us determine to remember to run to God for help, learn to forgive, and learn to love more and more, outside our comfort zone. This is how I hope to remember 9/11, by loving more.