Grief: Medicinal Pain

9-11-firefighter“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”

-Job 1: 21

No two people in this world are the same. Everyone comes from some place different. They have different cultural ancestry, different families, different environments. No two people have the same experiences. Our experiences throughout this life remain one of the biggest separation of me from them. Because I cannot understand what it is like to know their experiences, I cannot never truly understand someone else. While we can never really be certain about what people may experience. We all know that each and every person that will ever walk this Earth will experience pain. Pain is that universal experience. Whether you believe that to be a result of the Fall of our first ancestors, or just a result of human stupidity and brokenness, pain is the common denominator of this existence on this big rock called Earth.

During the Summer between my Freshman and Sophomore Years in high school, my high school class lost two of our classmates. They were 15 years old, and they died when their small plane crashed. It would have been really easy to just ask, “Why, God? How could you let these young men die when they have their whole lives ahead of them?” We were a bunch of teenage boys (I went to an all boys high school). We should not have had to be asking ourselves those difficult questions. While those questions were so easy to ask, we didn’t react to the plane crash with despair. Yes, we were sad and in pain because we had lost these two great men of God. But there is a weird thing about pain. No matter how much we can feel the grief of losing a loved one, we have the ability to turn the worst pain and grief into something good and beautiful. Once again, some people say that that is because of the beautiful, transforming power of God, and others will just say that it is a natural instinct to want happiness and joy when in a place of darkness and pain. No matter which your belief is, we can all say that pain and grief  aren’t always truly the end; some good comes from those painful situations. That’s exactly what we aimed to do. We came together, firstly, as Brothers to grieve together and, secondly, as a school. The death of our brothers hurt us, but we did not let despair rule in our school and in our hallways. We grew close as a class, never forgetting to bring the spirit of our brothers into whatever we did. We were able to turn the pain and grief into the unifying glue of our class.

Twin towersTimes of loss and of grief are times, not to despair in what we no longer have, but to rejoice in what we still have. My high school class could have definitely let the pain and grief fester within us, making us bitter in desperation, but we didn’t. We took the situation we were put in and allowed ourselves to be changed by it, for the better. Twelve years ago, on this day, the United States of America suffered a horrible tragedy. We were attacked by terrorists. There were many losses on that day, and everyone became very scared, because we never thought that something like that could happen to us. People lost mothers, daughters, sisters; people lost fathers, sons, and brothers. Best friends and random acquaintances were lost that day. I can never act like I understand the pain they went through. The United States was attacked by terrorists, and those men and women lost their lives because of it. I continue to pray for all those who lost their lives, along with their families. That is a pain that we all wish no one had to bear.

And yet, it happened. No one can deny the reality of the terrorist attack that happened on September 11th, 2001, now mostly referred to as “9/11.” We all wish that we could remove that memory from our minds. The pain and confusion that it caused so many… I, like most people, can remember where I was that day when I heard about it. Though I was too young to understand what was going on, I remember. I was in Miss Pennington’s class. Apparently the teachers were told not to tell the students, or at least the younger students, what happened. But she didn’t listen to what they told her. She turned on the TV, where we saw the smoke rising up from the Twin Towers as they were falling. And then after school that day, when my Mom took me to get a haircut, it was on TV there. I’m not the only one who remembers. Basically anyone who was old enough to at least understand a little bit what was going on remembers what they were doing when they found out. When emotion is involved in a person’s experience, it is more likely to be stored in their long-term memory. And oh was there emotion that day.

Like my high school class, no one is happy that we experienced that. It’s a reality we all wish we never experienced. But we did. So we can’t just ignore that. And if anyone looks at the media for the last 12 years, we all know that 9/11 has not been forgotten. But in this nation’s case, is that really a good thing? Good can come from pain and grief, like I said before. But what has come from 9/11? What has this nation gained (or lost) since that day 12 years ago? People can agree that we are all fairly united by the pain. We can all say that we were effected by it. But is that it? Is that the “good” that came from it? I would be rather hesitant to call that “good.” The pain is the only thing that unites us. Some people blame Bush for what happened. I’m sure there are also people who blame Clinton. Some people are upset that we went to war after it. I’m sure there are some that are disappointed that we didn’t reply more aggressively. These differences in thoughts on the situation do several things. 1) They alienate us from one another. We get in disagreements about what happened and why. We get in arguments about these things that really do nothing but separate us from each other. 2) While we may think that we are giving honor to those people who died that day, we are doing nothing but profaning their death. We are getting upset with everyone around us about stupid things. What will blaming a certain president do? NOTHING. What will your thoughts on the resulting war do? NOTHING. Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have an opinion on war. War is a sad reality. But when we begin to focus so much on the war and the things surrounding that day, we forget to pay attention to THAT DAY. People lost their lives. We shouldn’t forget that.

The tragedy of 9/11 has not only done those things. This nation has become hot with contempt and anger toward those people whom we think are responsible for it. We became angry at the world. The United States is like the teenager of the nations in the world. The United States developed the mindset (pretty quickly, I might add) that everyone should look at us and feel sorry for us. The nation gained the “Woe is me; I’m so hurt” mindset. They started being sad with pain, and yet upset with that teen angst. While trying to get as much of the world’s sympathies, the country turned against any nation that seemed like it might have had any slight possibility of maybe having some small part in the tragedy. Grief and pain should not be turned against other people. While it is okay to be upset and angry about the situation, it is not right for us to do what we can to attack them in anger. 9/11 was a tragedy. But that does not give us the right to be the “Woe is me” country, while trying to take out our angst on the entire Middle East.

Like I’ve said, good can come from grief. Grief at the loss of a loved one becomes a pain that can either poison us or provide medicine for our lives, bringing about a good. This country suffered a horrible tragedy, yes. No one is disputing that. But the way that we dealt with our grief, as a nation, was no way to respond to it. We should take this opportunity to, firstly, pray for those that either lost their own life or lost a loved one. They have experienced a pain we will never understand. But the way to react to the tragedy is not by hating those who did it. Hate is what brought about the tragedy in the first place. We must build up a culture of love. When we continuously love one another, hatred will become a thing of the past. We cannot hate others and expect to be loved in return. Love others. That’s all we can really do. Love.

“Hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be
pissed off all the time.”

-American History X


Duc In Altum


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Claritas Pastor
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 14:28:48

    This is beautiful, Ryan. Thank you for writing it.


  2. asyoufish
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 18:21:25

    This is excellent.


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