As we nationally mourn the loss of thousands of loved ones and the attacks on America on September 11, 2001, it is also fitting to honor our resilience.

We are not a fragile people.

When I was a child, I had these dolls that were made of material, porcelain I think, that could be shattered and broken so easily.  It didn’t take much.  Grabbing a doll by the arm or the head in a fit of anger could pull it apart.  Dropping it on the cement or on a wooden floor could knock out the eyes.  Much of the material things we owned seemed to shatter with little force.  Even our hearts felt like they were made of that delicate material.  So many things could shatter us to pieces—a death in the family or community, a political assassination, someone dear moving away.

But Americans are not porcelain dolls.

There’s a healing, a sweet mercy in knowing that our broken hearts can be mended, that we can move from surviving to thriving.  We are the Phoenix arising from the ashes.

We have always survived threats to our democracy from within and without.  Today’s political climate with its bullying, stone walling, and spears of fear from extremists of the right and left is  nothing new.  We have survived epic moral and national divisions from attacks on Native American nations and slavery to the injustices and violence brought about by the Industrial Revolution and anti-union politics that challenged class assumptions of that era.

We’ve seen it all: the social tsunamis of segregation and Jim Crow; opposition to race, gender and economic equality; and Senator Joe McCarthy and the anti-communist persecutions of the 1950s.  We’ve fought World War II, the Nazis, the Korean, and Vietnam Wars.   We’ve mourned more young men as soldiers then we dare begin to count.

We’ve scaled the emotional barbed-wire fences of ignorance, jealousy, envy and hate from within and without our borders.  We’ve even survived apocalyptic prophecies of the 18th and 19th centuries and lived to hear them come again.  I do not believe in God’s punishment.  I believe in God’s mercy.

As a people we face harsh realities in our time:  higher unemployment, increased racism and economic disparity, wars all across the planet, voter bullying, terrorist threats, splintered political parties and more. But, really, none of this is new.  Over and over again we have sent the darkness packing with the love and respect that leads to new growth, beauty and power.  I’ve experienced this in my own life, and I know you have, too.

We are a fantastically resilient people.


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