When the Past is our Prize

by tylernielsen

When the Past is our Prize

On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was killed in an attack against the consulate. As we remember that September day and look to the upcoming election, I think there is a trend worth noting. National Public Radio correspondent Blake Hounshell writes, “What makes the deaths all the more tragic is that they will inevitably become politicized.”

That one line has held my attention the longest. Not to say that the entire article (even more the news itself) wasn’t alarming, but rather the idea behind that sentence. It seems to me that Americans have, in the past decade especially, become increasingly individualized. And, as a nation, we have separated. Last night, as I watched original news film from September 11th and chatted with an older gentleman, I was surprised to see a trend emerge. 

Although most would still identify themselves as Americans, our pride in our country isn’t out of respect for the current state, but for our former position. Either we hear of upcoming “change” or of how our country used to be. Granted, I’m not the most informed gal around, but I’m also not the most ignorant. The United States has seen many changes over my lifetime; even more, over the course of my parents. I’ve heard stories, read books, sat through classes and lectures, and listened to my elders. Those that I listen to (whether my grandfather or a fellow student) are typically not commending the government or political systems. And, everything is politics these days. From marriage and babies to health care and gun control, all the buzz is what the government is or isn’t doing to or for us. Whether they’re making laws or repealing them, somebody, somewhere is complaining. If it’s not “Remember when?” or “In the good ‘ol days”, it’s “Someday” and “Then…”. 

In all of this, my question is why. Why is it that we, as humans, struggle to be content? Why is it that we invest so much in what the government can do for us? Why is it that criticism is so quickly on our tongue, but kindness is rarely tasted. I think that it’s so much easier for us (myself very much so included) to assume that we would do better, that we could do better. By no means do I wish to diminish the tragedies and frustrations we are seeing. And I certainly do not disregard the weight of the decisions to be made. But, I would like to offer this thought…If kindness were the law on our lips, if our own skin wasn’t what we were trying to save, and if our hearts were affording grace rather than bitterness, how would our lives and the lives of those around us be different?