“These are the times that try men’s souls!”
This is the first line of a paper written by Thomas Paine in December of 1776. Paine called his article The American Crisis. It was written at a time when the outcome of the American Revolution was in doubt and the fate of the 13 colonies in America was very uncertain. A revolution, which had started out with much hope, had stalled and many active supporters had backed away. “In times like this,” Paine wrote, “the Summer Soldier and the Sunshine Patriot will shrink from the service of his country, but, he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
The events of September 11, 2001, have forever changed the routine of our America. The question we must all ask is how do I respond? After the initial shock, the horror and disbelief, where do I go from here? After the crying and praying or cursing and venting of anger, what do I do next?
The answer is so simple it is profound! You get on with life!
To do anything else is to grant victory to those that planned and carried out this dastardly deed. We stand in the gap to do what must be done whether on the buck brigade or tending the store.
Such an event can bring out the best and worst in each of us. Things that we have come to take for granted suddenly take on new meaning. We must become aware of our enormous privileges and blessings and the spirit of sharing and giving takes on a magnitude long forgotten.
America is not great because of who we are or where we are, but what we are.
The line from America the Beautiful suddenly makes sense as the caring step forward to meet the needs of others. “And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”
The attack on America was the fruit of hatred, fanaticism, and intolerance. To the extent that we as individuals harbor any of their feelings against others, we fuel the fire to keep such feelings alive.
We will need to read and re-read this passage from Thomas Jefferson, “we hold the truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…”
Perhaps the greatest challenge America will face in the days ahead will be to believe in ourselves. This is not to say times will be easy in the days ahead, but as FDR said in another trying time, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
America thrives when we have confidence in one another. The Mayor of New York City stated the best way to honor the fallen is to get back to a normal life as quickly as possible. The coming days may tax the resolve of each of us but to “circle the wagons.”
To stop the journey ad to bury the seed stock in a bunker is to delay the harvest.
Paine includes this thought in Crisis, “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”
These are the times they try men’s souls – May God Bless America.
Please pray for out nation, our state and our city, for this too shall pass.