I saw United 93 over the weekend. Most of the discussion I've heard about the movie was whether or not it was too soon to revisit 9/11. Without question, it is still too soon to be entertained by the 9/11 story. But this movie isn't entertaining. It felt like a horrible and realistic reenactment and it helped me grieve. It helped me take back the memory of United 93 from the warmongering that embraced the phrase "Let's Roll." I was able to reclaim the memory of the awfulness of that day and the sympathy I felt for the people who were faced with making unthinkable moral decisions based on very limited information under a very tight deadline.
After the movie, I was discussing the it with friends, some of whom had just watched the movie with me, and some who had not. Someone asked a non-American in the group about his responses to 9/11. He likened his response with his response the Kashmir earthquake in 2005. It's true that the Kashmir earthquake killed a great many more people, but for me the difference is vast. A natural disaster has yet to make me contemplate pacifism, universalism or the nature of justice. I'm able to simply grieve for the victims of natural disasters. I cry, I pray, and I send money when I can. Suffering that is related to "Acts of God," however influenced by human incompetence or wit, is easier for me to comprehend than acts of extreme violence.
The magnitude of 9/11 for me wasn't the destruction of buildings, or an alteration in my feeling safe as an American. It wasn't even the horrific deaths although some images from the towers still haunt me. It was knowing that these acts of desperation and hatred would be met with large scale revenge. By some estimates, the wars waged in response to that Tuesday morning's hijacked planes have killed almost 250,000 people to date. 9/11 was a horrible tragedy in and of itself, but it was only the beginning of a very dark time.
Today, we are living in a world where too many decisions are being made in fear, in hate, in confusion and in revenge. I feel as though all I have to fight against the wars being carried out in my name is my voice and that my voice is drowned out by so many other voices. I don't think anyone is actually listening, anyway. I feel so helpless and so scared.
Towards the end of the film, there's a period of time where everyone is praying. The prayers of the hijackers, the passengers and the flight attendants are all overlapping in the chaos. Surely God is able to hear each of us, distinctly, as we cry out to Him in our time of need, no matter what language we speak or how many of His children are crying to Him at once.