Today, I was met with a story about how yesterday, a Sikh man in Chicago was brutally beaten and called “Bin Laden.” It sickens me that this type of violence has always been hand-in-hand with September 11th, that after the attacks fourteen years ago, attacks on anyone who “looked Middle Eastern” skyrocketed, and American citizens of Middle-Eastern descent were essentially kidnapped by their own government and viewed with suspicion. I also read a blog post on Patheos that sums up exactly how I feel:
But on this day, as a Christian, there are some other things I want us to never forget about 9/11 and the retaliatory War on Terror that happened in response.
On 9/11, 2,977 innocent Americans were killed by terrorists.
In the 14-year war on terror, 5,280 American soldiers were killed because of our country’s response to the 9/11 attacks.
Conservatively, reports estimate the War on Terror claimed 1.3 million lives in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Our war killed 5 percent of the Iraqi population, people who had zero ties to what actually happened on 9/11.
Our war killed at least 465 people for every person who died on 9/11. Some estimate we killed 670 or more per person.
Our war displaced 3 million Iraqi people.
Our war created 2.5 million Afghan refugees.
Read David Henson’s full post on http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson/2015/09/things-to-neverforget-on-911/
Will we continue to blindly flaunt our patriotism and say “Never forget,” but so easily forget what we’ve done? Are 2,977 lives worth more just because they were American? Haven’t we had our fill of revenge?
One of my last assignments for school is to write a personal essay. My topic is my experience as a Christian with depression. I will be posting the full essay when it’s done, so for now, here’s an excerpt:
While seeing depression as a result of spiritual frailty or sin has become outdated, there’s still some odd Christian teachings surrounding it. Depression is viewed as a season and something that – with time and prayer – can be overcome. All my life people have told me to be patient, that they were praying for me, and that I would one day know the freedom and joy that only Jesus can bring. The longer the depression stayed, the less people talked about it. They got tired of telling me they were praying, and I got tired of hearing about it. Believing that depression is a sign of spiritual weakness is not popular, but if you suffer from prolonged depression, people start to wonder.
When a celebrity with mental illness dies, deaths due to suicide go up.
The thinking seems to be if somebody with so much success, with access to all the best care can’t make it, what are my chances?
Robin Williams had bipolar disorder and was suffering from major depression at the time of his death. In the past, he struggled with alcoholism and a cocaine addiction. Like so many know, bearing a genius like Robin’s comes with a high price.
Robin Williams’ death comes at an especially dark time. Ebola is ravaging West Africa, the Middle East is erupting yet again, and police brutality and intense community unrest rage in Missouri over the murder of Michael Brown. Today, I felt myself deflate when I learned that Robin’s death was not a hoax as I originally thought, but a shocking reality. I know that funny people are not permanently happy, I am not delusional about this, but to have a life snuffed out by such a heavy darkness is such a brutal reminder that mental illness does not discriminate and it is not merciful.
But we are not beaten. Laughter is one of the sharpest and brightest rays of light in the darkness of mental illness, and Robin would want those who share his suffering to remember that. He was a man who understood the importance of laughter in the face of immense sadness. Resorting to suicide is not necessarily the inability to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is an inability to keep holding on until that light is within reach. When I have contemplated suicide in the past, it is not because I can’t imagine an end to my suffering; it just seems too far away, and I am so, so tired. Laughter helps us along the way, it makes the journey a little easier, my steps a little lighter.
Just keep holding on. Keep breathing. Keep laughing.
Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.
– G.K. Chesterton
Good Friday is in one week.
The day on which we remember the death of Christ.
In the Good Friday services I’ve attended, people try to preserve this sense of mourning, but it always ends with the hope and the promise that “Sunday is coming.” This is all well and good, but I can’t help but think about the disciples, the crowds that followed Jesus, his brothers, his mother. They didn’t look forward to Sunday. They really believed that Jesus was dead. Gone. There was no hope.
Christians are told to die to themselves, to die to the sinful nature, to die with Christ. I’ve been thinking about what I want to die to this year. It’s a frightening thought. Death seems so permanent. I’ve been spiritually exhausted for a long time, tired of being questioned, tired of watching the American church fracture more and more deeply, tired of waiting for apologies from those who have hurt me, tired of being angry. I just want my struggling faith to roll over and die.
Maybe it’s time. Time to let it die. Time to wait for a resurrection.
After all, my God is one who breathed back life into corpses with a single word, who can make dry bones in the desert transform back into an army.
Little girl, I say to you, get up!
She was my best friend in 5th grade. She loved bandanas. And I loved her.
She was the first friend whose home felt like my home. We swam in her pool and looked up alien languages on the Internet. She was my first and only “practice” kiss.
That year was long, but eventually, it ended, and we both changed schools. We began to drift, both finding different friends, but I missed her. I didn’t know how to communicate that without sounding needy.
Years went by.
I heard secondhand about her struggles with depression and when my own mental illness worsened, I thought often about her. If we had met at a different time, we might have walked that road together.
From Facebook, I read about her adventures, going to England, visiting cats at shelters, comforting strangers, and dreaming about India. She loved fiercely and without apology. She wore her heart on her sleeve and it was open to everyone. Through her grueling experience with depression, her optimism and strength shocked me. I envied her ability to not let her illness hold her back.
Her life was short – much too short – but she lived it to the fullest.
Terrie Hall died today. She is recognizable from the CDC’s Anti-Smoking campaign commercials. Because of her ad, calls to the Anti-Smoking center doubled and hits on the SmokeFree.gov website tripled. Terrie was a smoker all her life, and still smoked even though at 40 years old, she was diagnosed with oral cancer. She went through radiation and the treatment was going well when she was diagnosed with throat cancer and she went through a laryngectomy, which removes the voice box. This is what changed things for Terrie.
She became an advocate against smoking and did ads and talks throughout her home state. The CDC PSA was what gave her the most recognition and Terrie talked about how she would meet former smokers and they said would say, “I stopped smoking because of you.” Terrie felt honored to have been a part of saving lives.
Terrie died in a hospital today. Age 53. She endured 48 radiation treatments and 10 cancer diagnoses.
R.I.P. Terrie. May your legacy live on.