And I find myself watching the news, complaining about my president, about prospective candidates, and how America is slowly, but surely, going down the drain.
“They’re all idiots; we’re all idiots,” you know.
Yesterday I was thinking about running away to South America (destination still undecided) where at least the freaking fruit doesn’t taste like plastic. Maybe I could at least get a job teaching there because here, a bachelor’s degree in English isn’t enough for anything.
But today I went with a friend to a September 11, 2001 memorial service. We didn’t know what to expect. We’re Mormons and the service was at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, right off Center Street in downtown Provo.
We were a little late and had to bow our heads outside of the chapel, because someone was in the middle of a long prayer. But they let us in, of course. All were welcome.
The Payson High School Bagpipe Band marched in and played a song that reminded me of Braveheart. It gave me the chills because bagpipes always sound like freedom.
Before we went in, I was thinking, I don’t have a sappy September 11th story. All I remember is my brother Grant barging into my room in 8th grade saying, “Terrorists have attacked. WWIII!!!!!” It was surreal. The day is a blur now; it probably was then too. All I remember is President Bush looking at me through the TV saying we were going to figure out who did it and we were going to take care of it.
I didn’t cry then because I was on the other side of the country–I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know how or why some people could hate us so much. I just didn’t get it. I still don’t, to be honest.
But after the speaker today told us all about the Americans in the back of the plane who decided to vote about what to do with the terrorists on the plane, I cried. Because what the heck? Who has the guts to do that? And who has the guts to put so much of their future in the hands of other voters?
When the speaker talked about all those people who ran into the towers after the planes hit, I kept thinking, Oh, God, Are there really people still like that? Here? Am I like that? Would I have gone in–against so much smoke and hope–to maybe, just maybe, find someone and help someone? Someone else.
It got me thinking. Do I have the guts to hold on now, ten years later, when already so many Americans, including myself, have fallen if not into passiveness, into negativity and pessimism? Do I have the guts to stand up for what I believe in, even when there may be so many against me and even if there’s a big possibility I might lose? Do I have the guts to stand up to those who say, “What’s the point?” “Who cares?” because do I have the guts to care? Do I have the guts to believe in something more than myself? In this country, in a god, in our constitution, in our communities, in our future?
I’ve been thinking about what I believe, what I want to believe, what I choose to believe. After all, isn’t it a choice?
I choose to believe in America, even if right now we’re still at war and in debt and out of jobs. We’ve pulled ourselves up before and I choose to believe we can do it again.
I choose to believe in Americans, even if we vote for different parties, pray to different gods or don’t pray to a god at all–that we all have it in us and around us to be better.
I choose to believe in sacrifice, forgiveness, and hard work, even if I don’t always get what I wish I deserved.
I choose to believe that in America, pain, cruelty, prejudices, and hardship can be triumphed because they have so many times before and they will, still.
I choose to believe in holding hands while praying, no matter who is on my left or on my right.
I choose to believe in putting my hand over my heart, even if no one is watching–that it means something so much more than me because I choose to believe in so much more than me.
I choose to believe in my vote, even if my vote may not make a difference in Utah; even if I don’t get who I want.
I choose to believe in my voice, even if it’s little and I only get so many followers on my blog.
I choose to believe in my contribution, even if only my neighbors notice a difference.
I choose to believe that America is still a gift. That the American stories about courage and hope and faith are just as real and needed now as they were way back when we first started, no matter who tells us it’s time to get over it. That even though so much is still unfair and hard and even scary, dreams are real and can be real and that there is power in me and my choice.
I choose to honor the victims and the heroes and the American citizens of September 11, 2001 by deciding now to believe and hope in us again.