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FIRST-PERSON: Don’t stop at being affected; let’s move on to being changed

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–The most horrible attack of terrorism ever to take place on U.S. soil has greatly affected all Americans. However, it remains to be seen if it will produce lasting change.

You are “affected” when reality comes out of nowhere, slaps you hard and leaves you stunned emotionally. That is what occurred Sept. 11 and some are still numb from the assault, now being referred to as “9-11.”

Change flows from a deliberate and conscious choice fueled by desire. Commitment, discipline and perseverance are all necessary if lasting change is to occur. An “affect” will fade, while true change becomes more settled with the passing of time.

Those “affected” by the recent terrorism scrambled to display their emotion. Swept up in the tidal wave of patriotism splashing across America, they flew flags and wore red, white and blue. When “The Star Spangled Banner” played, an untapped passion welled up from deep within.

The “affect” of 9-11 caused hyphens to vanish from descriptions. The attacks were indiscriminate. The terrorists were not seeking to kill African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Native-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Asian-Americans, or Etcetera-Americans. They were simply destroying Americans.

Amid the chaos of Sept. 11, tales of true courage emerged. The “affect” of men and women sacrificing their lives for the sake of strangers redefined the term hero, superseding overpaid athletes who only place their pride on the line. Jesus said it well: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

Terrorists accomplished, in a few seconds, what philosophers, politicians and preachers have been seeking to do for decades. The “affect” of their assault provided a bridge across the generation gap. Baby boomers now have an emotional link to their parents. They have access to the feelings that raced through the previous generation’s heart on Dec. 7, 1941 — the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Make no mistake about it, the “affect” of the recent terrorism has been significant. However, it does not necessarily guarantee that everyone has “changed.”

If America is to emerge “changed” from the terror of 9-11, it cannot be, as some have suggested, “business as usual.” Individuals must move from emotion to decision and from decision to commitment.

Patriotism can no longer be something that is unpacked only on special occasions. It must be practiced daily. Individuals must define themselves not on the basis on race, color or creed but simply, and proudly, as Americans.

Respect must be accorded those who serve community and country. Appreciation should be extended to those who don a uniform or wear a badge.

Veterans, who fought to preserve the freedoms we so enjoy, deserve gratitude. Those who have never gone to war must recognize the sacrifices that were made so future generations could bask in liberty.

The recent terrorism has “affected” each one of us in some shape, form or fashion. But the question remains, will we be “changed?”

Leadership guru John Maxwell says, “People change when they hurt enough that they have to change, learn enough that they want to change, or receive enough that they are able to change.” Did the events of Sept. 11 produce any or all of the above? For the good of our nation, let’s hope so.
Boggs, whose column appears in Baptist Press each week, is pastor of Valley Baptist Church, McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs