Posted by: 2thdocbob | 5 September 2016

Remembering our strength and our safety: Fifteen years after

We will never forget

It has been fifteen years since the heartrending, gut-wrenching events of September 11, 2001. Every time I come across a photo or a video from that terrible week, I feel the same pains that I felt back then. Those events left a deep impact on me. I am not aware of any personal connection to any of the individuals who lost their lives in those unspeakable acts of terror: my personal connection was actually to the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. But that’s another story.

Since that awful day, we have seen many pictures, many memes, and many quotes. Two in particular are very problematic to me. The first is “We will never forget;” the second is “United we stand.” Allow me to explain why these are bothersome.

It has only been fifteen years, and it appears that we have forgotten. Immediately following the attacks, Americans turned to God as a source of comfort and peace. As the pain lessened, as the healing progressed, Americans turned away from God again.

The Lord described this very thing in a revelation to Joseph Smith in 1834: “In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.”[1] In the Old Testament, we see the Children of Israel do the same thing. Again and again.

In the intervening years, some have tried to explain away what we saw. It has been labeled as a government conspiracy and as many other things. It brings to mind the account of the Nephites after the signs which accompanied the birth of Christ, which were both prophesied and visible to them in the western hemisphere. Merely four years after the sign was given of Christ’s birth (a day and a night and a day without darkness – how do you explain that away?) we are told:

“the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen—
“Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people …” [2]

United we stand seemed a farce to me from the beginning. While I love the song by The Brotherhood of Man[3], and the sentiment expressed in that song, I really never sensed the unity after the relief efforts faded from view. Partisan bickering began shortly after the dust settled. Questions about remuneration and restitution and retribution (and I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do[4], but I can’t leave it up to you) arose and could not be resolved.

As the 2016 presidential election nears, I have never seen such disunity in the United States of America. We are a disunited people, disintegrating into factions and tribes that are filled with disdain for anyone who doesn’t agree with their own viewpoint. Individuals will take stands simply for the publicity it gains them. Rational thinking seems to be missing from the equation.

The Apostle Paul described this well in his Second Epistle to Timothy:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
“Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
“Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;”[5]

Gordon B. Hinckley, a wise man, and a Prophet of God, made this statement in General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October 2001, in which he challenged us to live up to our convictions:

“We live in a season when fierce men do terrible and despicable things. We live in a season of war. We live in a season of arrogance. We live in a season of wickedness …” and then he told us how we can change the world: “As we recognize our place and our goal, we cannot become arrogant. We cannot become self-righteous. We cannot become smug or egotistical. We must reach out to all mankind. They are all sons and daughters of God our Eternal Father, and He will hold us accountable for what we do concerning them. May the Lord bless us. May He make us strong and mighty in good works. May our faith shine forth as the sunlight of the morning. May we walk in obedience to His divine commandments. May He smile with favor upon us.
“And as we go forward, may we bless humanity with an outreach to all, lifting those who are downtrodden and oppressed, feeding and clothing the hungry and the needy, extending love and neighborliness to those about us who may not be part of this Church.
“The Lord has shown us the way. He has given us His word, His counsel, His guidance, yea, His commandments. We have done well. We have much to be grateful for and much to be proud of. But we can do better, so much better.”[6]

In another address in the same conference, he reminded where our safety lies:

“Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God.”[7]
And “Our safety lies in the virtue of our lives. Our strength lies in our righteousness. God has made it clear that if we will not forsake Him, He will not forsake us. He, watching over Israel, slumbers not nor sleeps (see Ps. 121:4).”[8]

During the week leading up to September 11, and also thereafter, I hope that we will remember these simple, yet profound words from a prophet, and not forget where our safety and peace truly come from. “We are followers of the Christ who was and is the Prince of Peace. But there are times when we must stand up for right and decency, for freedom and civilization, just as Moroni rallied his people in his day to the defense of their wives, their children, and the cause of liberty (see Alma 48:10)…”[9]

In his sermons that October, Hinckley recalled the words of Kipling, which I have addressed in a previous post:

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget![10]

May we not forget the events of fifteen years ago; above all, may we unite in remembering the God of this land, on whom we rely for strength, safety and peace.

We_Will_Never

My special thanks to those who created the touching pictures that I used. I do not know who you are, but your illustrations have touched me deeply. I will not forget.

—————————————————

[1] D&C 101:8.

[2] 3 Nephi 2:1-2

[3] Hiller & Simmons; United We Stand; 1970. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZB96cvBjy8

[4] Lee, Alvin; I’d Love to Change the World; 1971. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaGwjZCCswQ

[5] KJV, 2 Tim. 3:1-4.

[6] Hinckley, GB; Living in the Fulness of Times; 2001. See https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/living-in-the-fulness-of-times?lang=eng

[7] Hinckley, GB; The Times in which We Live; 2001. See https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/the-times-in-which-we-live?lang=eng

[8] Hinckley, GB; Till We Meet Again; 2001. See https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/till-we-meet-again?lang=eng

[9] Hinckley, GB; ibid.

[10] Kipling, Recessional. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46780

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Responses

  1. This is very well-written. I will work harder at remembering. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on One Small Voice Scripture Review and commented:
    Bob wrote a great piece today. We would all do well to look back and remember.

    Like


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