A Thistle By Any Other Name ...

What a difference a few days make!

On September 10, it was business as usual in the good, old USA. Then our collective shock, which gave way to grief and various manifestations of anger changed the way we do business, the way we relate to each other. Whereas righteous indignation and flag-waving patriotism were formerly the domain of Jerry Falwell and the conservative "throwbacks" whom mainstream America had relegated to the fringes, the masses got religion overnight. The cul-de-sac suddenly became Main Street. Amazing.

Strains of "God Bless America" and signs bearing those words and other similar heart-warming phrases were suddenly in vogue on every corner, even in the New York Stock Exchange and on the Capitol steps. The nation watched and listened to a national memorial and prayer service featuring representatives of our eclectic faith and our President singing comforting hymns of old.

Has America come to its senses, finally awakened by an enemy who dares breach our shores and take thousands of innocent civilian lives for a cause that we can’t even begin to fathom?

The public relations award went to Billy Graham who received a standing ovation while Jerry Falwell’s and James Dobson’s presence in our National Cathedral was completely ignored by the media, Falwell still smarting by the vitriolic outcry of our nation’s finest against his prior, regrettable remarks.

Isn’t this backlash warranted after a man of the cloth dared to walk in the shadow of the First Amendment, a defense which is certainly applicable for mainstream America and particularly those who embrace our diversity with new-age tolerance? How dare he solicit all those headlines and appear on national television spreading his version of the gospel? Grovel some more, Jerry. They’re not satisfied yet. And by all means, give us more uplifting sit-coms and MTV.

Is that pungent aroma wafting across our fair land fire and brimstone or hypocrisy and political correctness? Who are the self-righteous — the Falwells of the world or those who change their stripes with every shifting wind?

Perhaps it’s just Falwell’s timing that is deplorable to the new converts of our national religion. Of course, Jerry, you’re free to call us to accountability for our sins when New York and Washington aren’t burning. But God’s judgment? We’re just not ready to confront that possibility. Murdering millions of innocent, unborn babies, undermining the godly concept of family, taking prayer out of the public square? How can those "crimes" possibly compare with a massive terrorist attack against our nation? And why would anyone want to rub salt in our bleeding wounds by insinuating that Almighty God may be displeased with us? The very idea! We’re America, the Great Hope of the World.

Time will tell if Americans are ready to rise to the occasion and if we are truly "one nation under God, indivisible. …" If and when we manage to conquer terrorism, with the help of the God at whom some futilely thumb their noses, what then? Will our character be altered for a while? Will we continue to enthrone both individualism and diversity? Will we go back to hiding behind our freedoms, or will we become a community once again rather than merely flirt with the idea because it’s fashionable? Will handshakes and hugs replace Prozac?

Time will tell what we’re made of. Yes, may God bless America and may we be worthy of the blessing.

© 2001 Deborah M.Thurman