Move on but Never Forget!

THE CHAPLAIN’S CORNER - September 2013
By Pastor Gary Cortese, Chaplain – Byron Fire District

It’s often said that time heals all wounds. But is that always true? Whether or not we ever find healing one thing is for sure: Life goes on and always has.

For many people there are some things you don’t just get over (but you do get through it). Just like new skin will eventually grow over a flesh wound, new life can come after the soul and emotions have experienced trauma. We can experience healing but some scars will remain. While the passing of time may lessen the intensity of the pain there are some things we shouldn’t just accept and get over.

Take for example September 11, 2001. I’m grateful that life goes on and we can continue to pursue our dreams and passions. But I personally will not get over the fact that some misguided people are committed to trying to destroy my way of life and will continue to disrupt the future for my children and their children after them. Yes, we forgive, we move on, we live life and we enjoy our incredible freedoms but, we must never allow ourselves to become complacent or indifferent. Every single one of us must do our part to perpetuate the “American Dream.”

Folks, we live in a society where it’s often difficult to discern what the real issues are because everyone is promoting their own agenda. Our world has changed since 9/11; some good, some not so good. Much tragedy has occurred since then. Guess what? The evil and terror are not going to stop. It’s part of the human condition. So, when I encourage you to never forget some things I am simply trying to keep you from being pulled in a direction that isn’t really important.

How can we stay on track and not lose sight of what matters? First of all, it’s important to commemorate the anniversaries of certain events to keep it before us. These things happened and they brought us to where we are today. Have we learned the important lessons? Are we promoting solutions or sowing seeds of fear and discord? Be careful who you allow to define and prioritize the issues for you. In all the years of serving as a chaplain, never once has anyone asked my denominational affiliation, economic status or level of education before asking me to say a prayer for them and their family. You know what else never came up? The color of my skin or my ethnic heritage.

Second, vigilance, education and awareness are vital to protecting ourselves. Ignorance is not bliss any more than indifference excuses us from our responsibilities. Next, peace within and without our borders comes through strength. We should worry less about being politically correct or culturally relevant and be more concerned about being unified and strong. A bully is never interested in a debate about civil rights, ethics or morality. A friend’s wife was home alone when a man tried to gain forcible entry into their home through a back window. I don’t believe he was looking for some tea and stimulating conversation. My friend didn’t have to learn how to move on and find healing for unthinkable pain because his wife understood how to speak the language of evil: She pointed a loaded .45 caliber handgun at her would-be attacker and prevented him from entering her bedroom.

And, finally, our houses of worship couldn’t contain the crowds of people seeking spiritual refuge and comfort immediately following the attacks of 9/11. But what happened in the weeks and months that followed? We found solace and strength to settle back into our routines; we went on with our lives and the churches became less crowded. Did time heal that wound? Or did we simply become complacent?

Our faith is part of the fabric of who we are as a nation. What do we do after every major tragedy? We pray. And it sends a message that reverberates around the globe. Some nations see us as spoiled, self-absorbed and greedy. Well, they have good reason to be jealous! Just as long as they don’t see us as weak and indecisive. I say that we are United, Strong, Faithful, Full of Hope and Promise. Let’s keep it that way!