9-11 was a way of addressing emergencies until 2001. But then, I was going to pick up my truck at the repair shop when my secretary called me. We watched in horror as our world shifted under our feet. 9-11 was no longer just an emergency help number, it was a political event. We know now that the perpetrators named Islam as their motivator, but it’s hard to find a true Islamist who will own them. The motives were other—and rather than addressing an emergency they caused one.
They may not have seen it that way, of course. They were smart enough to figure out that the way they were using 9-11 was of a different sort than previously used in the U.S. Their rhetoric may very well have named an emergency in the Islamic world that they alone could see, and to which this was the only recourse for correction. If so, they failed. They failed miserably. Not only were they among the 2996 casualties of the day, but their cause, rather than coming forward as the new currency of religio/political exchange, but they forever branded themselves as destructive forces in the world. (Sometimes I wonder if the extreme actions of ISIS aren’t a desperate effort to take up that banner and force it onto the world scene.)
I was in court this morning with a parishioner who had been summoned. Though the moment is always fraught with anxiety (especially for the first time, as this was,) but there was a rock of regularity behind and beneath it. The Law of the Land was meted out with fairness and equity. Though there are those who might try to do otherwise and from time to time get away with it, our ideal still stands that nobody is above the law. For a believer, nobody but God is above the law, and God is not a capricious law-breaker.
Herein is one of the many lessons of the day. Change is rarely achieved by explosions. Chaos merely breeds a greater appreciation for order. True transformation is only discovered in that balanced dialog between the forces of stability and the forces of change, both surrendering to a negotiated vision of the common good.