Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Remembering What is Important

We have just passed a date that we wish that we never had to remember. September 11 really should be a date in which we are looking forward to a birthday, a football weekend, the first hint of fall. Instead, for everyone who has memories of 2001 we know where we were. Like the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of John Kennedy, we remember where we were when we learned of the tragic attacks on the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon, the crash in Pennsylvania

All across our country this month there have been remembrances of all those who died, but even more, all those who have died in the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On Sept. 11, our sanctuary walls were filled with the names of so many who have been lost—nearly 10,000 names.
It is important and necessary that we remember that date. But if we only remember, we have lost an important opportunity to ask ourselves, and our country what is really important. How much are we willing to change our lives, our habits in order to feel safe? How many of our liberties and freedoms are we willing to forfeit in order to thwart another attack? What is important about being America?
We need those times when we have those soul-searching conversations with ourselves, with our country. What is really important? 

In recent weeks we have been hit with so many numbers. We have learned that over 15% of all Americans are living in poverty, 1 in 6 children. That means that a family of four has an income of less than $22,350. In South Carolina, according to the 2011 Kids Count Data Book, over 260,000 children, one of every four, are poor. We now rank 45th in the nation for child well being. connection between poverty, teen pregnancy, low educational attainment, prison population is well known. We see those numbers all the time. I wonder what it would be like if we saw all their names listed on a church wall—all those lives effected by poverty, pregnancy, dropout, incarceration. Is there a wall big enough?
In the face of such mind numbing numbers are we willing to step back and ask ourselves, our state, what is really important? What are we willing to do to make sure another generation doesn’t fall victim. Following 9/11, we were willing to take off our shoes when we fly, to give up our big toothpaste, to fund two wars, to give away rights in order to be safe.

What are we willing to do to safeguard our children?

Are we willing to walk across the room and cut off TV programs that are inappropriate? Are we willing to fund proven effective programs that help our children make good decisions about sexuality? Are we willing to have conversations that might be uncomfortable, but so very necessary?
What is really important?

It is a question we need to ask—not only this year, but every year. Our children depend on it.

- Don Flowers, Former Board Chair and Pastor of Providence Baptist Church. Contact Don at

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