As I sit here this morning, especially in light of the news reports of what happened in Germany, Switzerland and Turkey on Monday, I am sadly reminded that what many people said after 911, “the world as we know it was forever changed”, was probably more true than any of us realized at the time. And I would say it is even truer for those of us who were born and raised and live in the United States of America, a country that has been divinely blessed, in my opinion, with the luxury of living for the most part safely and securely, at least while standing on US soil. Nowadays, we do not have to look very hard at our surroundings to begin to see evidence of a very different world, even here at home.
Security cameras are everywhere, as are cell phone cameras, and it’s gotten to the point that almost everything that happens, unless it happens in a private residence (at least so far), is probably being recorded and archived somewhere due to the constant existential threats of crime and/or terrorism. To add to those problems, we have a 24/7 news media that loves to “feed the beast” by sensationalizing and over-dramatizing these tragic events, many times to the point of glorifying those committing these atrocities and encouraging others to do the same, by giving these evil-doers the “fifteen minutes of fame” they crave (maybe we should now change that to “72 hours of fame”), allowing them to “go out in a blaze of glory” and give their radical causes tons of “free publicity”.
All of these intrusions into our freedom of movement and our personal lives become magnified even moreso around the holidays, as Americans by the millions attempt to visit loved ones who, at least partly due to the modern conveniences of travel and communication nowadays, are more likely to live hundreds or thousands of miles away. When I grew up, and even when my children grew up, years later, we didn’t have to plan for arriving at the airport two hours before a flight, having our carry-on bags, personal things and even our bodies x-rayed before being allowed to board our flight. But here in the 21st century, these things have become normal and expected.
I remember, very well, the days when bombings and terrorist attacks were “a way of life” in many other places around the world, especially in the Middle East, but not in America. Nowadays, when we mention places like Boston, New York City, Orlando, San Bernadino, Fort Hood, Charleston, Dallas, Oklahoma City in this country and places like Paris, Berlin, London and Jerusalem, just to name a few elsewhere, we are reminded of horrific stories and images captured by all those cameras we talked about earlier.
The picture that I included, here in this post, is quite interesting in that it is sort of a “before and after” captured in one single shot. It shows a seemingly tranquil park setting overlooking the waterfront, with a group of people appearing relaxed and safe (as it was in days gone by), while just on the other side of the water, millions of people are coming face-to-face with the new realities of “life in America”, or “Hell on Earth” as some have called that day in NYC. Some were at nearby airports, sitting on a plane on the tarmac waiting to take-off, as both Paul McCartney and members of the band Guess Who were. While at the same time, millions of others like myself were well out of harm’s way with their eyes glued to tv screens, having a very hard time believing what they were seeing. And now, some fifteen years later, unfortunately these horrific events have become so commonplace, we have grown accustomed to seeing these images over and over in what almost seems like daily occurrences in the world we live in today.
So in the midst of all of that, I would like to offer you some hope. Tragedies such as these are not really a new thing. Maybe it just seems like it here in America, because a lot of these things are relatively new to us. And the fact that we now have so many 24 hour news sources showing “the darker side of humanity” on what seems like an endless loop, hundreds of times each day, well that certainly doesn’t help. The world we live in has always been a dangerous place. It has been said, and rightly so, that “No man is promised tomorrow.” So the question is, “What are you going to do with today?”
We often hear the government officials or those in the media say, “The best thing we can do is continue to go about living our lives, for if we do not, then the terrorists and criminals have won”. While I do think that is good advice, I would like to add one more layer to that, “God is still in control.” All of our days are numbered by the One who made us, and there is not a single person or force on Earth that can change that. God knows our beginning and our end, even before we are conceived in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5), so why worry about what you cannot change? Rather, learn to trust God, for He knows what is best and always has our best in mind, even though at times we might be tempted to think otherwise.
So my prayer for you and yours, this Christmas season is a simple one, “Be safe and be blessed”…and show love and kindness to whoever you can, while God has given you the chance to do so. For too many have learned the hard way, that the ability to love, forgive or show kindness can be gone in the blink of an eye.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A SAFE AND BLESSED 2017 TO YOU AND YOURS!!!