Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9/11 Lesson for Politicians...and You and Me

January 2002
We are about to remember the events of September 11, well we should.  Personally I have tried not to pay attention to the hype that began a month ago and which will reach a crescendo Sunday September 11.  I am especially avoiding the speeches and comments by politicians about that day and its meaning for America.

As I reflect on what happened that day, I keep thinking about the actions of people we have come to call "first responders."  These are police, fire, and emergency professionals from numerous governmental agencies and jurisdictions.  Their job is to protect, serve and rescue us when we are confronted with crises and danger.

On that fateful day in 2001, thousands of first responders entered the damaged and burning twin towers to find and rescue people.  They knew they were placing their lives in jeopardy but just as surely they knew what their calling was and proceeded with profound and unmistakable courage.  They placed their lives in jeopardy to serve the citizens they were sworn to protect.  Perhaps few of them ever thought it would come to risking their life in such a horrendous fashion but each knew that if it should come to pass their training and character would provide them the strength to fulfill their mission of service.

I am sure that there will be no end of speeches by politicians about all this.  Many will praise these first responders without understanding the central message for them.  We elect you to serve and protect us and the common good.  Your prime objective is service not the saving of your own political lives.  We have a right to expect that you will be guided by values of service and courage and not by the need to satisfy special interests, whether on the left or right, whether liberal or conservative, whether business or labor, etc.  We have seen enough of politicians who play footsie with special interests of all types, especially those with checkbooks open and pens ready.

It is sometimes said that politicians are motivated by fear and the biggest fear is not being re-elected.  Those first responders surely felt fear for their lives and yet they proceeded to carry out their duties to all of us.  Politicians need to walk up to the fear of not being elected and proceed to do their duty to all of us without making  political compromises to insure their re-election.

The lesson is clear for all of us, not just politicians.  We are called to live out our lives in accord with our deepest values not in order to achieve success, high regard from others, or power.  The example of those first responders can help us consider our deepest commitments and resolve to live those out in our lives.  A message for all of us including politicians.

1 comment:

Jean said...

Well done, Bill. You have identifies the key weakness in our elected officials...self-preservation.
Thank you!

Jean Kearse