"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Remember:  to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory; think of again.To retain in the memory; keep in mind; remain aware of: Always remember 911.


Hear the tolling of the bells-
Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
On September 11, 2001 it was beautiful morning in southeast Ohio. It was an early rise that morning without much sleep from the night before because of my attendance at a Sade concert. The previous night was about as peaceful and promising as a night could be. 

A Sade concert can have that kind of effect on its audience.

The reason for the early rise was to play 36 holes of golf with two of my lifelong friends, Brian and Craig. We had planned to play 18 holes and then have lunch, and play another 18 holes.

F. Scott Fitzgerald might have written about Paradise Lost, but I sure was on my way to finding paradise at EagleSticks Golf Club that morning.

I love golf, and the thought of playing 36 holes makes it almost impossible for me to adequately describe the feeling that it produces within me.

Simply put; I love golf. 

And, so it was while we were walking up the 9th fairway, enjoying what I love to do, that my close friend's wife called and informed us that the Twin Towers and the Pentagon had been struck by planes that were hijacked by terrorists.
We were stunned and in disbelief. 

But, it was with our own eyes, minutes later, that we saw the news coverage and infamous replay of the planes ramming into the towers, while we were in the clubhouse. 

Right then, right there our day took on a new meaning; that day became 9-11.

Horror and confusion covered our faces; sadness and depression filled our hearts.

I can still remember the emptiness and the uncertainty I felt, and the awkward thoughts I entertained as we drove home with an empty sky due to the grounding of all planes, domestic and international, in the US.

In a word it was surreal.

As I tried to process what had happened over the days and weeks that followed this tragic event I was left with more questions than answers; less calmness and more anger. What I realized that day is that it can be more troubling, and at times more painful, to not have more questions than answers. 

New York Times: 9-12-2011
Along with the country, I felt deeply sadden and lost. 

Now as we stand ten years removed from the most tragic event in US history in my lifetime I now realize that my observations of 9-11 have developed and are clearer. In the end my thoughts are just that; my thoughts, but these reflections have given me some answers to the questions I had on that fateful morning in 2001.

This morning my wife and I discussed 9-11. I woke her up at about 7am and ask her to turnover and look at me. As she did she ask me what was wrong? I told her I wanted to ask her something; "What did you learn from 9-11?"

Her answers and observations were very similar to the beliefs I hold.

Allow me to share.
The first thing 9-11 taught me that there are evil, very evil, people in this world that have diabolical minds, depraved hearts and dark, and demonic, souls. The world is full of evil people that only have one desire and that is to cause havoc upon their fellowman and to destroy whatever stands in the way of their needs and desires, and their ideological and religious beliefs. Proverbs 4:16 states; "For evil people can't sleep until they've done their evil deed for the day. They can't rest until they've caused someone to stumble." I think we all can agree as a country we realized that truth on 9-11. 

Remember, Webster defines evil as morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked, and because of this we will never fully be able to handicap their actions or predict their behavior. The only thing we can do as people, and as a country, is to take every precaution to protect ourselves, to consciously commit actions that will in-turn preserve our freedoms and to persistently pray to God for his favor and protection.

Secondly, 9-11 cemented in my mind how fragile life is. You only have to a have a conversation with a mother who lost a son, a father that lost a daughter, a child that lost a parent or a wife that lost a husband to remind you how short and precious life is. Psalm 39 4-5 states:
“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
      Remind me that my days are numbered—
      how fleeting my life is.
  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
      My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
      at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Remember, life is as fragile as two wet tissue papers sewn together. Life is short, life is precious and life is fragile. 

Tomorrow is never promised.

Finally, 9-11 taught my wife and me that there are far more good people in this world than there are bad. With every documentary and weekend tribute, honoring those who lost their lives, I was reminded of the countless thousands of men and women that displayed a type of compassion that leaves me speechless. From the time the first plane hit the North Twin Tower to the memorials in Washington DC, Shanksville PA and ground zero the human spirit that is alive and well in America has been uplifting and encouraging. The effort by many has been remarkable and causes me to be proud that I'm an American. 

Firefighter William "Billy" Eisengrein, who still works with FDNY Rescue Company 2 in Brooklyn, N.Y., raised a U.S. flag out of debris on Sept. 11, 2001.
Photo: Thomas E. Franklin 

Remember, there are more people that want to help and not harm; to aid and not abandon; deep in many people's heart is concern and compassion for their fellowman. There is more love in this world than hate; always has been and always will be.

First Responders
Photo: First responders carry Father Mychal F. Judge, Chaplain of the Fire Department of New York, out of the burning building. Father Mychal was the first recorded victim of  September 11, 2001.

It has been mentioned on many occasion that Robert F. Kennedy's favorite book was "For Whom the Bell Tolls", written by Ernst Hemingway and published in 1940. The novel is a story about an American, Robert Jordan, in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. The theme of the book is centered on death and the contemplation of one's own death, and for the need of each man to recognize the surrender of one's self for the common good is paramount. This ultimate sacrifice is embraced by Jordan and others in the book, believing that they were doing what "all good men should" do. 

In the face of death relationships are developed and camaraderie is formed.

Ernest Hemingway

An interesting side-note about the phrase "For Whom the Bell Tolls" that Hemingway made famous originally found it's origin in the 17th century by way of John Donne (1572-1631). Donne lived in England and at the time the tolling of church bells were an important feature of daily living; marking various events. 

 The tolling of bells also referred to funeral bells as we see in Donne's work entitled "Meditation XVII"

John Donne wrote:

No man is an island, entire to itself; everyman is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod washed away by the sea, Europe is less, as well as, if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells toll; it tolls for thee."

Some believe John Donne's words to represent people's mortality and that when a funeral bell was heard it was a reminder that with each day we are a little nearer to death. Others believed Donne was pointing to the fact that we are all one and that, when one dies, we all die a little. In both instances it was the interconnectedness of humanity that was the overwhelming theme.

Hemingway believed both of Donne's premises and it was revealed in his writing of his 1940 novel, and this same philosophy of the interconnectedness of humanity espoused by Donne was, and still is, the foundation of our recovery and healing as a nation in light of the tragic events of 9-11

It is death, and the contemplation of our mortality that has the greatest potential for growth and change in our lives.

Before Hemingway and Donne there was a man named Solomon. Solomon was considered the wisest person to ever live. In about 935 BC, late in Solomon's life, he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, found in the old testament. In "the book of the teacher", as Ecclesiastes is referred to and is its literal meaning, Solomon shares with us his keen insight and wisdom concerning death:

"It is better to spend time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while we still have time. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now."

My goal is not to promote thinking about death at all times or to be overjoyed when we have a funeral to attend. My words, and words of Solomon, are only written to encourage each one of us to remember that when we hear the bell toll that we remember the victim and their families, and to recognize that we all died a little on September 11, 2001 and that we would do well to contemplate our own mortality in the future and to never forget the victims of 9-11.

Genesis 3:19 states; "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." 

And Hebrews 9:27 shares with us that; "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."

Finally, in the aftermath of 9-11, and years of reflection, I've gained the belief that though the true evil in the world can destroy our brick and mortar; our steel and glass, and that they can snuff out human life, and the fact that they will attempt and most likely succeed again, they will never succeed in crushing our spirit and leaving us without hope.

The one thing that the evil perpetrators of disaster and destruction in the name of religion don't understand is that they will never be able to eliminate our resolve or destroy what believe in or how we think. 

We are the United States of American.

We are strong.

We are one.

And we will not be denied or defeated.

God bless the victims and the families of 9-11.

And God bless the United States of America.

We will never forget.

sbb 9.12.2011
"Forever Young"  .  Marcia Hines

No comments: