I grew up in America when terrorism happened somewhere else.
In the 1970s, I vaguely remember IRA bombings in London, violence aimed at pressing the case for Irish liberation from British rule.
In November 1979 Iranian students occupied the American embassy in Tehran and took more than 50 Americans hostage. They would remain captive for 444 days, each one chronicled by Ted Koppel’s Nightline late night news program.
Until then, everything I knew about Iran I’d learned from a high school friend who’d left that country to avoid conscripted military service.
In 1983, the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut was bombed, killing 241 US service people. By then, Beirut had become a metaphor for bombings, assassinations and guerrilla warfare.
In 1992, as I waited at JFK to board an EL AL flight to Tel Aviv, terrorism seemed a more imminent danger. Nobody just boarded at the gate. Airline security asked pointed questions about the reason for travel, carry-ons were scrutinized. Would-be travelers considered a threat were left behind.
In April 1995, terror arrived at home. A domestic terrorist blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City leaving 168 people dead, including children. At the time, it was the worst terror attack on American soil in the nation’s history.
Then came the morning of September 11, 2001. My husband called from work. “Are you watching TV,” he asked?
I turned it on and sat speechless as planes flew into New York City’s World Trade Center. The North then South Tower, each filled with people, were struck. As the smoke rose, people leapt from windows before the burning buildings finally collapsed into a tsunami of ash and smoldering debris. Nearly 3000 people perished.
Hate spreads across borders, across time zones, across oceans. Hate breeds death. The world has grown smaller. We cannot isolate ourselves from this reality.
Killing that was “over there” has become commonplace in American schools, malls, festivals, marathon races, night clubs, various places of worship coast to coast: Columbine, Charleston, Charlottesville, El Paso, Orlando, Pittsburgh, San Bernadino and soon maybe a town near you.
We Christians live in this world, a world Jesus loves and died to save. What are we to do? We are His ambassadors, called to love one another, to love our enemies and to stand firm in the faith against our common adversary, satan.
Let’s remember the mission and keep the faith. God is love.
Love never fails. 1 Cor 13:8