- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

We have a habit of ignoring our problems, don't we? Drug addiction, illiteracy, out-of-wedlock births. Mostly we try to cover our backsides by throwing money into social programs. And, when we find out that more money isn't the answer, then sometimes we close our front doors and grab the remote, hoping, indeed praying, that we'll find a few channels to carry us off to idyllic America.

Can't do that this time, can we? This time the problem confronts us at every turn of any TV or radio dial. Even the Internet gives us variations and themes of our latest problem beckoning us, for example, to download patriotic screensavers or shop for patriotic Halloween costumes, or engage in interactive maps showing the latest air strikes.

Indeed, we have been stabbed in our collective patriotic hearts with a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, we are determined, and rightfully so, to rid the world of terrorism a global monster of our making. By that I mean that, in the process of trying to rid the world of what we once considered our biggest and most ornery threat, communism, we put another in its place. Then we grew quite complacent and full of ourselves, acting as if we were in charge and had everything under control.

For those of you who disagree, then read no further. As a matter of fact, those who do disagree might even call me naive or my argument overly simplistic even groundless. Trust me, that's fine. You've said worse to me in your e-mails and in telephone calls.

What I have to say are merely thoughts, perhaps stream of consciousness thoughts, I had after praying for an end to the madness that manifested itself on Sept. 11.

Now back to why I think we created this double-edged sword. Have you ever read or heard tell about substance abusers' enablers? Well, enablers are the folks the friends, the loved ones or the relatives who consciously decide to aid and abet substance abusers. The enabler may be a parent who knows his teen-age son is helping himself to dad's double-malt Scotch but never confronts him because he never sees him tip the bottle or never actually sees him toasted. Another enabler may be a mom who gives her crackhead daughter $20 every now and again and turns a blind eye to her daughter's addiction because she'd rather not have her daughter knock someone over the head for drug money.

Now, if you can understand not sympathize but understand that, then you can understand what I mean by double-edged sword. These children were, in a sense, of their parents' making and, yet, despite the fact that the parents know their children are doing wrong, the parents continue to enable their bad habits.

And then boom, boom, boom 911.

They struck us where it really hurt.

Dead center. In our literal and figurative hearts.

They hit our financial heart, which permitted us the luxury to enable their growing bad habits.

And they hit our military heart, which enabled us to shield ourselves from their growing bad habits.

Or so we thought.

See, only after they hit us did we realize that we can't have it both ways and that tough love is a delicate balancing act. We created that double-edged sword by shaking one finger at key figures in the Middle East and offering them an olive branch tied to another.

We enabled them when we said nah-nah-nah-nah-nah at the door to their U.N. conference on racism, and then asked them to join our coalition against terrorism.

We enabled them when we fed them with one hand and orchestrated air strikes with another. How's that saying go? Six in one hand, half-dozen in the other?

Now, I could start spewing Bible verses about reaping what we sowed. But that would only leave you thinking I'm trying to lay a guilt trip or play the blame game.

I could do that. But I won't. The Rev. Jerry Falwell and others have already been there and done that.

Besides, it wouldn't do any good at this point. No, at this point we have to consider where we're headed and how we're going to get there.

Are you certain we're headed in the right direction?

With our airports more secure than ever and Wall Street ticking away, most of us are back to our ordinary lifestyles. And, while there will be lots of haggling this year and next over spending proposals vs. belt-tightening, the fact of the matter is that the only two things we really and truly can depend on are our military readiness and prayer.

Now I know there are many of you who think military readiness is of utmost importance. However, just as I simplified for you the reason we're having this discussion, so, too, shall I make it easier still for you to understand why prayer is far mightier than the sword. (All you agnostics, and card-carrying non-believers may be excused to peruse headlines and stories elsewhere.)

The message is this. We have seen death, destruction and all manner of mayhem by the hands of Americans all over the streets of America. Some of us tried to do something about those problems, and some of us didn't.

And, while the terrorist attacks really and truly rocked our world, we remain mere caretakers. No more. No less.

The grace of God.

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