One Enemy, One Hope

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Amelia Monroe Carlson

Where were you when the towers fell? Until Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the average American likely knew little to nothing about Islam and even less about radical Islam. They certainly did not hate Muslims. A second glance was rarely given to a woman walking down the sidewalk with a hijab. The moment the towers fell changed everything. 

Within minutes, hours, and days of the attacks the nation rallied together with a shared purpose. War was imminent and America wanted those responsible to pay. No one asked, or even cared, about the race, sexuality, history, gender, or sins of those who perished that day. All that mattered was they were killed for no reason and many feared more attacks were coming. A sense of peace and comfort was lost. Fear rose in place of contentment. Catholic priests rushed to hospitals to administer the sacraments to those injured and prayers rose for the repose of the souls of those lost. 

Suddenly, Americans had a shared enemy. Although it was certainly misplaced a lot of times, every Muslim was suddenly someone to be feared. Americans gave more than a second glance, they gave a condemning suspicious look, to anyone wearing a hijab or speaking Arabic. Firefighters were hailed as heroes and police officers were appreciated. The American flag appeared on homes, fences, yards, and businesses across the country. Church attendance rose by 25 percent across the nation and prayer candles were left outside Ground Zero. Within a matter of hours, Islamic terrorism had become our shared enemy and Jesus was our hope. 

Americans began to hear, speak, and urge repentance for sins using 2 Chronicles 7:14 “and my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” 

Fr. Christopher Keenan, serving in New York at the time, told Catholic News Agency, “this experience has seared our soul and our spirit and our life, and it has so seared our spirit and our life that it has penetrated our DNA….It has changed our lives and we will never be the same.”

In the following days, stories filled the airways and newspaper covers of strangers reaching out to help strangers, firefighters running into the burning buildings as they worked to get as many out as possible at the expense of their own lives and police officers laying their lives down in order to save others. Thanks to Todd Beamer, a man aboard United Flight 93, Americans had a new rally cry: “Let’s Roll”. Beamer’s flight was hijacked by terrorists who, according to national intelligence, was believed to be headed either to the White House or the United States Capitol. Beamer gathered other passengers and crew members together and worked to save lives. Those onboard Flight 93 were aware of the attacks on the towers and the Pentagon. Beamer and a group of strangers chose to save lives at the risk of their own. Beamer prayed the Our Father and recited Psalm 23 with the operator prior to his last words “let’s roll” being heard. The group stormed the cockpit and caused the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field, perhaps saving countless lives at the White House or the Capitol. The team of strangers had one mission: to save lives. They did. 

Americans became proclaiming “we will never forget”. Sadly, as a nation, we have forgotten. 

Politicians have ignored, or at worst commended, Antifa terrorists rioting and looting businesses and homes. Opposing political viewpoints are not only disagreed with but hated. Calls to defund the police, which rushed civilians away from falling debris or stormed into the rubble to help strangers at the cost of their life. The American flag that once flew to show that we will never be defeated by terror now lies in the middle of a street burned. There is no common enemy because Americans have become the enemy of each other. Yet, the truth is we still have the same enemy and we should still have the goal of saving lives. 

“The thief (Satan) cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

It took approximately three months following September 11 for Satan to worm his way into American lives and cause people to, once again, stop attending church. The increase in church attendance, penances, and prayers declined. Life got back to normal – just the way Satan wanted it. He, on the other hand, kept working to steal, kill, and destroy. 

He stole our sense of brotherhood, patriotism, and our call to help the stranger in need. He killed our appreciation of police and law enforcement. He destroyed our sense of unity and recognition of a common enemy. I beg us not to forget that we have a common enemy, which is the only enemy we truly have, and we have a shared hope. Our enemy is not each other, another religion, or political viewpoint. Our enemy is the devil. Our hope is not in a politician, political party, or platform. Our hope is in the Lord.

“And this is the confidence which we have towards him: That, whatsoever we shall ask according to his will, he heareth us. And we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask we know that we have the petitions which we request of him.” (I John 5:14-15)

On September 11, 2001, within just over two hours, terrorists had killed 2,977 people and injured over 6,000. A total of 265 died on four planes (including the terrorists), 2,606 perished in the World Trade Center and the surrounding area, and 125 lost their life in the Pentagon. They were black, white, Asian, Europeans, Hispanic, male, and female from different cultures and beliefs. They were citizens going about their daily lives and first responders doing what they were trained to do. They were human. They were people. They were mothers, fathers, sisters, daughters, sons, and loved ones. They were our brothers and sisters, not our enemy. 

We have one shared enemy: Satan. We have one shared hope: Jesus. We all have a call to save lives. We have a call to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and save lives for eternity. The gospel of Christ saves. The gospel of Christ redeems and it redeems those of all nationalities, cultures, beliefs, race and gender. Imagine what would have happened, who else could have died, if Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers and crew were more concerned with someone’s political affiliation, race, or background than working toward a common enemy with a shared purpose. 

Let’s Roll America. Let’s Roll Christians. But, let’s do it together.

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