I was a senior in high school when it happened.

It’s funny how my generation has been labeled “millennial,” as though January 1, 2001 was the most culturally-defining day for people my age.

Not quite; you’re off by about nine months.

I was in bed during the first plane strike. As I said, I was a senior in high school and didn’t have classes till later in the morning. My mom woke me up when the second plane struck. That’s when she knew it was not just a freak accident. I remember thinking someone on the news was simply overreacting because “terrorism” was such a “movie” word. I couldn’t believe it was real.

I got dressed and went to school. When I got there, I walked into my history class about two minutes after reports came out that the Pentagon had been hit and that “America was under attack.” That’s when I finally got scared. After all, if it was just one location, you can be scared and worried and not understand, etc, but it’s localized in one spot. America wasn’t under attack; New York was. It was an isolated (but tragic) incident. But when they broke-in the news to say “now DC has been hit,” that’s when I thought “oh no, this is World War III.” I legitimately thought bombs would start sailing and the country was about to go to war like Europe in the 40’s.

That’s a day that changes a person, especially someone whose mind is still developing and calcifying as my adolescent brain was in 2001.

The world is much different today than it was before 9|11 and I don’t just mean “going to the airport wasn’t a regularly scheduled fiasco.” Everything feels less safe, with constant reports of fighting in some country, terrorist attacks in others, the threat of attacks (again) here, etc. Then there’s our own national response to the attacks, much of which centered on all the things we’re no longer allowed to have or do all in the name of “safety” and “security.” Not to get political, but I often think about Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty or give me death” credo, and how it has been supplanted by “Take my liberty, just don’t let me die!”

But that’s the way the world is now; there’s no use moaning about it.

What we can do is roll up our sleeves, open our Bibles, make friends with neighbors and start inviting people to know the Gospel. The post-9|11 world is divisive, hateful and paranoid. It needs the freedom, unity and love of the Gospel now more than ever. I have the Gospel and so do you. Are we doing our part to change the world? The world changed after 9|11…can I do something to help change it again; this time for the better?

~ Matthew