Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Will Remember Them No More

This is the great promise the Lord gives to those who repent of their sins, "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." What's more, he tells us that he is the one to decide if someone has repented, not us: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." Finally, we are promised great blessings if we will forgive our fellow man. "To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ."

On this September 11, it saddens me that so many nationalists are unwillling to forget and forgive the great tragedy which happened 7 years ago. I found this on the blog of someone I respect a great deal, and I wonder what it is he wants to remember about the infamous day:

I've saved the special edition newspapers that came out that day, and the day after. I've laminated them and now I hang them up in my classroom every year on September 11th. They are a dramatic reminder of the horrific images and the magnitude of that day. And I'm determined never to forget. I won't forget what happened that day or the days following. I won't forget what a great land we live in. I won't forget the sacrifices of those who have gone before to make America great. And I'll try to do all that I can so that my students won't forget either.

Why would we want to hang on to the memory of the destruction which happened at the Twin Towers in 2001? Do we not wish that the supporters of the Fancher party would forget and forgive what happened on September 11 in 1857? Can we not feel wonder and gratitude for the great land we live in without attaching it to a hatred or mistrust of another country or people?

Some of you may wish to remember the bravery of the rescue workers who worked tirelessly to save their fellow humans trapped in the building. You may wish to remember the loved ones you had who you lost that day. But I would urge you not to attach these things to the terrible and misguided actions taken by a few lost souls. Remember that people of other lands have courage in their hearts. Remember that children of God die tragically from our actions, too. Pray for peace.
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.


Zillah said...

I think that you allude to an important distinction towards the end of this post: what are we remembering? Commemoration does not have to focus on those who caused a tragedy, but rather can be emphasizing those who died, and those who strove to save victims. WWII memorials do not have to focus on perpetrators of war, but rather on the memory of soldiers and civilians who suffered and sacrificed.

Anyway, obviously, it is possible to forgive and forget certain aspects, while also remembering others.

Clean Cut said...

There's a famous quote that "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repute it". I'm not advocating hatred or being unforgiving. But I don't think it's a good idea to forget our history or forget the things (good and bad) that have made us who we are, 9/11 included.

I tell my students that people who do not know their history are like someone with amnesia. They don't know who they are, what's happened to them, or where they've come from. And if that's the case, it's hard to know where you're going.

As historian/writer David McCullough has said: "History teaches and reinforces what we believe in, what we stand for, and what we ought to be willing to stand up for." And we can learn a lot of great lessons from September 11th, 2001. Just like remembering the hard times our nation lived through during Valley Forge and the American Revolution--we appreciate their sacrifices and gain strength and renew our commitment to our American ideals.

Clean Cut said...

That would be "repeat", not "repute".

Jenn said...

Your post has me thinking so I thank you. Two posts on remembering 9/11 that I also liked are on Light Refreshments Served. You or your readers may also want to check them out.

Clean Cut said...

More specifically, to answer your questions:
"Why would we want to hang on to the memory of the destruction which happened at the Twin Towers in 2001?" To remember the price of freedom.

"Do we not wish that the supporters of the Fancher party would forget and forgive what happened on September 11 in 1857?" I hope, for their own sakes, that they can forgive. But I would not ask them to forget. Heck, I'm LDS and I don't think we should forget. Many important lessons to be learned from the Mountain Meadows Massacre, however unfortunate and uncomfortable it may be.

"Can we not feel wonder and gratitude for the great land we live in without attaching it to a hatred or mistrust of another country or people?" Yes. I agree with this statement. I don't think we should have hatred for another country or people. But I acknowledge that evil exists in the world, and it wasn't "a country" or "a people" who attacked us, but terrorists.

To be honest, I don't think much about the terrorists. I think they need to be defeated, just as the Gadianton robbers needed to be defeated. We need to be willing to fight for freedom and liberty. But I'm not really thinking about them or "hatred" when I think of September 11th. I don't get angry. I think more solemnly on our own responsibilities, on what it means to us as Americans. It's not political to me. That's a whole separate argument about the politics and the way our country responded for better or for worse. But when I say that "I won't forget"--it's more like "I won't forget you and the lives that were lost that day, and that freedom is not free."

Hoopla said...

"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."

This scripture says we are required to forgive; it says nothing of requiring us to forget.

Bored in Vernal said...

Hi Clean Cut!

So nice to see you over here. Some of your points are well taken. I agree that we should remember certain lessons of history, remember who we are and where we have been. The scriptures often tell us to remember...but what? We are to remember our covenants, the promises the Lord has made, righteous teachings that have been spoken to us, the awfulness in transgressing against God, and most of all to remember our Redeemer.

I have a hard time with those who want to remember how we have been wronged by another country. In defending your position, you said, "I acknowledge that evil exists in the world, and it wasn't 'a country' or 'a people' who attacked us, but terrorists." I think that is where we make our biggest mistake. Of course it was people who attacked us. It was some mother's son who hijacked the plane, it was someone's brother, someone's husband. They did it in the name of their God and they thought they were being every bit as righteous and courageous as you thought those firemen were. We all like to apply logic to other's religions and say that they were crazy and fanatical, but we don't like to apply logic to our own. We look at Muslims and laugh at their idea of virgins in the afterlife, they look at Christians and scoff at a God who bleeds to death to try to make up for someone else's sin. Christians look at Mormons and see a prophet who digs for buried treasure.

I reject the notion that "freedom is not free." If you believe the promises in 2 Nephi, this nation will remain free if the people here are righteous, NOT if we send over enough troops who are willing to give their lives. I believe that giving one's life to the cause of war is a useless sacrifice.

In Jacob 3 we find this advice:
"Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.

If we find ourselves in captivity in this country, why do we not look to ourselves and see how we can remove our own filthiness? You may think you do not advocate hatred or being unforgiving. But why do you honor those who go over to another land (filled with their brothers and sisters under God) with guns and bombs in their hands?

Bored in Vernal said...

Hoopla, read the first scripture in my post. The Lord forgives by "remembering their sins no more." This is what he is asking us to do.

Clean Cut said...

I honor service to country, even if I disagree with what the politics.

Here's an interesting thought: The cost of freedom=Righteousness. Freedom is not free...

(I also understand your points about seeing the other side's point of view. I really do try to do this. When I was referring to "a people", I was referring to "a nation" of people.

I believe in our right to protect ourselves and our liberties, but I don't necessarily agree with the all the politics and policies of our country that lead other nations to hate the United States. Nobody is perfect, and no nation is perfect. Politics can certainly be maddening. But I still believe that there is still something special about America. American ideals are what I honor. Let there be no doubt about that.

We both have lived in foreign lands for extended periods of time. It was quite an education. But I was most grateful to return with a new appreciation of the United States. Does that mean that I'm blind to our own faults? Not at all. There has always been a gap between our American reality and our ideals. i.e.: The Civil Rights Movement. The good news is that we're inching closer and closer to close that gap.

Bored in Vernal said...

I would never protect myself or my family by killing another human being. I don't expect anyone to agree with me, that is just my personal philosophy. I wouldn't want anyone to protect me at the cost of another's life. How can I say that my life or my family's lives, or my countryman's life is more valuable than another?

When you say you believe in "service to country," what do you mean? Helping repair flood damage? Feeding the poor? Or going armed into another country with the intention to kill those who don't do what your politicians want?

Clean Cut said...

I'm fine with not agreeing on this. I think I've already gained something by hearing your perspectives. But I do disagree with some of what you've said. For example, you said "I would never protect myself or my family by killing another human being." I actually could see myself doing this in order to protect myself or family.

Related to that, and also to answer your question about what I mean in "service to country"--I look to one of the great Book of Mormon heroes, Captain Moroni. There is a lot of insight gained in Alma 48:11-17:

"And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.
And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;
And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.
Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

If only the rest of our country shared this faith...

Hoopla said...

Sorry about taking so long to respond. You said that The Lord forgives by remembering their sins no more and that this is what he is asking us to do in reference to "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more."

It seems to me that this scripture very clearly states that HE forgives and forgets. It mentions nothing of our requirements. The latter scripture requires us to forgive, but mentions nothing of forgetting.

I am not saying that we should dwell on the wrongs or keep them in the forefront of our minds as we deal others nor am I saying that we should harbor ill will towards the person that wronged us. I am saying that we should remember in order to learn from the experience. If you forget every wrong ever done to there could be very serious consequences.

A child molester might be forgiven by the child and their family, but that does not mean that the family should "forget" and allow that person to spend time alone with their child again.

Though child molestation is a very different offense than the attacks on September 11, they do have a commonality. In order to prevent it from happening again, we must remember what was done.

It is absurd to expect severe criminal behavior to be forgotten, doubly so when no repentance or remorse is expressed; we then just open ourselves up to be injured again. Should we turn the other cheek? Yes. Should we forgive? Yes. Forget? No.

SilverRain said...

For me, I would never seek out another's life to protect my family, but I would take the life of someone who attacked my children, if I could. I may or may not defend myself, but I would defend them with everything I have.

It is quite possible we have crossed the line in this war. I don't say I support it, but neither do I fully condemn it. I suppose growing up in the military has given me a rather odd perspective. There is a lot we just don't know about what is going on, both good and bad, and I don't think more transparency in such things is always a good thing.