Searching for a silver lining seems sacrilegious. That lining can't justify so many dead. But now those dead are gone, and we owe them many things. We owe them justice, we owe them memory. And we owe it to them to search out and preserve any good that may have come.
One miraculous good to come from the September attacks is a new, clearer, nationwide perspective on what is truly worthwhile.
The cumulative effect of ten thousand little distractions kept us from sharing that perspective before. Each of us has so many choices to sort out in our individual lives. The range of choices we all enjoy results from our country's wealth and freedom—the choices let us live well. But if we live well, we don't always live nobly. Priorities get misplaced. In the pursuit of ever more comforts and amusements, it is easy to be petty and forget about grace. In the pursuit of personal advancement, it is easy to be busy and forget about joy.
Now comes this change. Now we see a dim glow through the fog, an indication of where our true wealth lies. All of the choices are still there. But in each of our lives, what is worthy of our time, energy and devotion has been glowing more luminously in recent weeks . . . while what was corrosive, selfish or merely distracting has faded a little farther into the background.
This perspective, this new light, is a treasure worth preserving.
Friends ask me for my outlook on the events of September given an event that happened in my own life in late August. My wife and I became parents. Our baby daughter was born just 13 days before the terrorist attacks. What will this evil mean for her future?
There is little I can say with confidence. This world has long had danger and evil in it. Her physical safety today is no less than it was before.
But there are other kinds of safety than this. What if the people of our country can indeed keep alive some part of the new perspective they have found? If so, then my daughter's spiritual safety will have increased.
Her mother and I debated what to name her. Even on the day she was born, I still wasn't sure we made the right choice. But now her name reminds me of those things I don't want to forget. "Hannah" translates to mean grace. And "Joy" is Hannah's middle name.