King for a Day: Passover and 9/11

David Schraub asks:

Slavery/Jim Crow: Black Americans :: 9/11 : Americans generally

The tragedy is still remembered because the harm and concurrent ideology is still being fought. Surely, you don’t think that America should start finding more positive ways to remember September 11th, rather than this whole “war on terror/occupation of Iraq” thing (talk about negativity!)?

Which is a challenge for me to lay details in another setting, besides Black racial issues and the Holocaust on my claim that we should be careful with our remembrances. A long time ago, I ran a short series, “King for a Day”, in which I pronounced imperiously what policies I would enact on a variety of issues. So, after 9/11, if I were King (or anyone would listen to me) …

Exodus 12 tells of the Passover (ESV) Here I quote vv 14-20:

“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

Oddly enough in our prior descriptions of remembrance, one of Mr Schraub’s qualifications for not remembering as for the Passover was how long ago the tragedy had occurred. It seems the Hebrews did not wait long. By the account of Exodus, the rite was in place prior to their deliverance.

So, what would I propose we do after 9/11? Well, hindsight is 20/20 but here goes:

  • First, I would enact a “rite of remembrance”. Perhaps, in years afterwards, 9/11 would be remembered by a meal on a black tablecloth wherein a Pennslyvannia apple, some Maryland cherries, and a New York bagel (?) or some such more reasonably suggested regional dishes which are consumed as we remember what happened on that day.
  • Next as a Nation, we must do two things to ensure this might not recur. First, I think the point that in this day and age, individuals and small groups are empowered more and more by the multiplicative power of science and technology. A lone man in a New York subway with a small backpack containing a canisister of Sarin or VX can kill thousands. A small determined group hijacked 4 planes and did much damage. However … there is a quantitative difference between what can be done secretly and what can be done openly. We must make it clear that no longer can a Nation state not use it’s internal resources to combat this evil internally. The size and confidence of such groups grows by orders of magnitude when given the shelter from the law enforcement of Nations. We must make it clear and press this charge and enlist all the Nations of Good Will on the world to this cause. No state may sponsor terror. If it does, it shall be called anathema, shunned, sanctioned, and if they do not change their ways then this will then be taken as a declaration of War. Second, and perhaps more importantly, we must seek to defuse the violence in the world up front. Violence is of this sort is an outlet for the weak in resources yet empassioned individuals and groups who aren’t being heard in the world stage of discourse. Seek ways to give their concerns an outlet that is not violence. As I’ve been arguing off and on recently, ethnic and other special interests groups very often have a particular moral issue which they wish to press on their neighbors. If there is no outlet for reasoned discourse available, violence is often turned to as an alternative. We, as a society, need to recognize this and even if we don’t give in the the demands of that particular interest group it is important that they be heard and that active discussion be engaged.
  • Finally, America has a strong isolationist streak. I would hope that this would give our fellow citizens a reason to make sure that as the world gets smaller and smaller, that we don’t blind ourselves to what is going on outside our borders. We must press for, at the very least if we can do no better, to share prosperity (and not by “giving away money” but by fostering development in areas in which conditions are right for prosperity, read this for example for what that entails). We waste so so much of our outside aid money on programs which just don’t help at all. If we give or lend, always do so with metrics attached, and if progress is not being made. Stop doing it and redirect those resources elsewhere.
  • Finally, I would entreat us (not demand) that we (and I) pray for those who did this, those who would do likewise, and their supporters who did this.

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