Horatio

Horatio
[Photo by Jacquelyn Griffin)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thirteen Years Later



Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind


For many years now, I have had a tradition of no politics on September 11. And, more recently, I have laid aside political blogging altogether, and I find the change has been for my good.

But here we are, thirteen years after my generation's equivalent of Pearl Harbor, only, not so; no "Good War," with a happy ending, and justice meted out. Mess, confusion, and a fire that reignites just as you think that, at long blessed last, it may smolder out.

O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart

O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The Heart beneath is teaching
To the broken Heart above


I have no easy answers today, as our President seems ready to re-enter the conflict we were receding from. I am heartsick, and wonder if this really is all we have to offer:
The morning after committing the nation to an expanded military campaign against Islamist terrorism, President Obama honored the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as the White House argued that he had the right to wage his new fight under the same legal authority he used to hunt down Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

On a day suffused with memories of four hijacked planes and the war they ignited, the president’s new mission seemed less a break from the past than the continuation of a long national struggle.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the administration said, was formerly the Iraqi affiliate of Al Qaeda, and has maintained ties with Al Qaeda even after its very public falling-out with Qaeda leaders. It uses brutal tactics that are out of the Qaeda playbook, and is viewed, even by some members of Al Qaeda, as the legitimate heir to Bin Laden’s legacy.

The argument, laid out Thursday by Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, could spare the president’s lawyers from having to negotiate a new legal authorization from Congress, should Mr. Obama decide to ask lawmakers to approve a prolonged military campaign.
The mixture as before. It worked so well last time.

O let the heavens falter
And let the earth proclaim:
Come healing of the Altar
Come healing of the Name

O longing of the branches
To lift the little bud
O longing of the arteries
To purify the blood


Earlier this year, I quoted Herman Wouk's The Winds of War:
Victor Henry turned his face from the hideous sight to the indigo arch of the sky, where Venus and the brightest stars still burned: Sirius, Capella, Procyon, the old navigation aids. The familiar religious awe came over him, the sense of a Presence above this pitiful little earth. He could almost picture God the Father looking down with sad wonder at this mischief. In a world so rich and lovely, could his children find nothing better to do than to dig iron from the ground and work it into vast grotesque engines for blowing each other up? Yet this madness was the way of the world. He had given all his working years to it. Now he was about to risk his very life at it. Why?

Because the others did it, he thought. Because Abel’s next-door neighbor was Cain. Because with all its rotten spots, the United States of America was not only his homeland but the hope of the world. Because if America’s enemies dug up iron and made deadly engines of it, America had to do the same, and do it better, or die. Maybe the vicious circle would end with this first real world war. Maybe it would end with Christ’s second coming. Maybe it would never end.
We seem no closer now to ending that vicious circle, and I have no better answer than that of Victor Henry tonight. Do you?

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

No comments: