McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Reflecting on the atrocious attacks that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, a cartoon by Jules Feiffer is particularly provocative.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist once created a strip depicting a man walking down a road. Coming to an intersection, the man encounters a guru sitting at the junction. The man asks the wise man, “Which way is success?” The guru speaks not a word but motions to his left, the man’s right. The man rushes off in the direction indicated by the sage.
Suddenly in the distance there is a loud “SPLAT.” Eventually the man appears. He is stunned and staggering. Thinking he misunderstood the message, he repeats his question to the guru. Again the guru says nothing but points to his left, the man’s right. Once again the man dutifully heeds the wise man’s instructions.
Once the man disappears from sight, an ear-splitting “SPLAT” is heard. When the man returns he is crawling. His clothes are tattered and he is bleeding. He approaches the guru, “I asked you which way is success,” he screams. “I followed the direction you indicated. And all I got was splatted! No more of this pointing! Talk!” The sage finally breaks his silence and calmly replies, “Success is that way. Just a little past splat.”
Throughout history as America has pursued success as a nation it has endured many splats. In the 1860s the nation was forced to struggle with the splat of a civil war. 1929 saw the splat known as the Great Depression begin. Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese planes delivered a devastating splat at Pearl Harbor. Time and time again the greatest nation in the history of the world has faced and overcome splat after splat. Each and every experience has left America stronger and wiser.
A year ago, on the day that will forever be known simply as 9/11, radical Muslim terrorists inflicted the most recent splat on the United States. The bloodiest attack to take place on American soil left thousands dead and countless millions stunned. America was once again dealing with splat. It remains to be seen, however, if the terror attacks of 9/11 are producing a more prudent and potent United States.
Immediately after Sept. 11, there was an outpouring of patriotism. Like a starving man stumbling into an all-you-can-eat buffet, Americans gorged on all things red, white and blue. Flags began appearing like wildflowers after a spring rain. God and country songs were suddenly vogue and people actually showed respect — even liberal, socialist-loving legislators — when the “Star Spangled Banner” played. Church attendance swelled as people sought solace in God.
A year later and, according to most researchers, things in the United States are back to “normal.” It seems the vast majority of Americans were stirred emotionally by the events of Sept. 11, but were fundamentally unchanged.
Anti-American sentiment, fueled by misguided multiculturalism, is still ever-present and actually pervades many college campuses. Airport security bends over backward to remain politically correct, targeting nursing mothers and octogenarians while refusing to racially profile those most likely to be terrorists. Church attendance has also returned to pre-9/11 status. According to one researcher, America’s spiritual climate has changed little in the year since the terror attacks. By and large, the slide back toward complacency has gone unnoticed.
In order to move past the splat of Sept. 11, America must do more than contemplate change. At a time when the United States seems to be regressing to its pre-9/11 consumer coma, the following truths are worth contemplating.
Security of American citizens is imperative. Politically correct sensitivity must be flushed and probable terrorists stopped at ports of entry and/or deported.
Patriotism is the celebration of all that is good about America. Practice it, cultivate it and encourage it.
Life is a precious but uncertain gift. Live each day to its fullest — it may well be your last.
America was founded on the consensus that biblical principles are a solid foundation for a stable society. Trust in God is a good thing.
Terrorists do not need to be analyzed. They must be condemned as evil incarnate and a threat to humanity.
If America is to continue to thrive as the land of the free and the home of the brave, change motivated by a desire to be stronger and wiser must occur. One thing is for certain: We cannot afford to forget the attacks of a year ago. If we do, we will never get past the splat of Sept. 11.
Boggs, whose column appears in Baptist Press each week, is pastor of Valley Baptist Church, McMinnville, Ore.