9/12 : Let Us Make Our Most Telling Strokes

True or not, there is a story about Leonardo Da Vinci when he was painting The Last Supper. It is said that he would spend hours or sometimes days just looking at the canvas.  Then, he might add only one or two strokes before returning to simply looking at the canvas.  When the monks in the monastery complained about this, Da Vinci responded, “It is when I pause the longest that I make the most telling strokes with my brush.”

This is the problem that I have with September 11 being declared a National Day of Service and Remembrance by our president for the second year in a row.  It is the pause to remember that is the important activity.  Obama did not even declare it a National Day of Remembrance and Service, putting the important part up front.  As time passes and memories fade, if the “holiday” survives, the end will be casually dropped and it will be a “Day of Service.”  I can’t help but think that is what is intended.

I heard the mother of someone that was killed on 9/11 say that getting involved with others is the way to lose your own pain.  She’s right.  The reason that you get active is to forget.  We cannot afford to forget what happened on 9/11.  We need to pause in our busy lives and remember.  Without the pause to reflect and remember 9/11, we are likely to forget what happened, what it means to us, and how we must steel our resolve.  I don’t mean that we should dwell on the nastiness and hatred that was displayed against us on that day, but that we should reflect on who we are and what we stand for, and what we can accomplish when we stand united.

Obama has always stressed “service” in his public speeches. If I have heard the words “community service” out of his mouth once, I have heard it a thousand times, and I don’t even listen to him that much.  His focus is on community service groups.  He is expanding Americorps.  Community service is good, but it is not the focus of Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Labor Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas Day . . .well, you get the gist.

Profound experiences must cause reflection, or they have no impact.  It is not enough to simply act.  If you don’t take time to pause and remember, then memories are lost in the flurry of activity.

It would be fine to have a National Day of Service, but 9/11 is too important in its real meaning to be sacrificed to a single president’s personal crusade.  Let us pause, and when we resume lives on 9/12, then let us make our most telling strokes.

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Published in: on September 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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