We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing, so, the Enemy permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still one vice of which they feel genuine shame.
Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
On September 11, 2001, many people lost their lives. And some people gave them. This is not to say that those who lost their lives were necessarily cowards, or died as such. But they had no say at all in the matter of whether or not they lost their lives, and precious little in how they lost them. For them we grieve, huddled in pain at cemeteries and memorials.
Others looked death in the eye and overcame it, through their courage and through their ability to see values greater than their own comfort and even survival. For them we grieve also, but with our shoulders straight and our heads high.
For whatever state of decadence Western society may find itself in, we have not entirely lost the ability to recognize and honour heroism and selflessness. This does us proud.
To what extent though, will we be able to incorporate these ideals into our individual and corporate lives? Can we together find a greater goal than our comfort and pleasure? The signs, coming as they do from a very complex and textured society, are complex and multi-faceted, but overall, I am not encouraged.
If we are to truly honour the heroes of 9/11, remembering them is not enough. We must, to one degree or another, follow in their footsteps. For this to happen, I fear it will require further and greater blows to wake us from our torpeur, if it is not already too late.