Sermon

 

Shock and awe

           Rabbi Dr. Irwin Wiener

Since the beginning of the founding of our country and its independence we have witnessed or read about all the sacrifices made.  The wars fought, the battles won and lost, the blood soaked earth where men and women once stood and died.  We have learned nothing throughout history to enable us to remember so that we will never repeat the tragedies that have befallen us.

 

Does the number 2,852,901 have any significance for anyone?  Simply stated, it is the total number of United States casualties in all-combat situations since 1775.  If that is not “shock and awe” then perhaps we do not realize that words are intended for us to not only realize our ambitions, our frailties, and our goals, but also our disappointments, and failures.  Most importantly, however, words are designed to impact our lives, so to make sense of all that we witness.

 

Recently a movie was introduced with the very same title, “Shock and Awe.”  It reminded us of the tragedy of rushing to judgment without understanding the consequences of our actions.  We are left with the feeling of emptiness, not only for the wasted lives, but also for our country’s search for its soul.  How many must die before we say, “enough is enough?”  How many times must we witness the horrors of war and the desolation that follows before we express our disdain for those who exercise unrestrained involvement in heinous acts?

 

We witness every day the savage destruction of human life; the senseless murder of the innocents because of some misguided belief that through this sacrifice salvation will be achieved.  We sit in fear, expecting the worse, even the end of everything we hold dear.  What have we learned over the years? Nothing!

 

The history of our country is replete with various episodes that have resulted in the upheaval of societies and culture.  We sat idly by as we saw and heard of the fiery furnaces that were the repository of the unsuspecting, the weak, the young, and the old.  We awoke one day to realize that we had an obligation to attempt to change the course of history by challenging hate and destruction.

Many times we have been in the forefront of signaling our desire to make the world a better place.  The sacrifices, we as a country have made, with both resources and manpower, have, in some small way, enabled humanity to find brightness and salvation.  There were men and women who no longer walk with us, celebrate with us, or even enjoy the fruits of their labors.  Their possibilities were endless.  Their dreams and aspirations are now found in cemeteries.

“Shock and awe” are what we are left with.  Not bombs and fires that consume land and people, but the realization that what we have done is to relegate their futures to nothing but memories.

2,852,901, a total of that should fill our hearts with sorrow and regret.  However, the number does not reflect those who are left tortured and maimed by the experiences of war.  Some are bewildered as to what their purpose was and is.  The number keeps getting bigger with each passing day.  The Middle East is a quagmire of frustrations and defeats.  Southeast Asia can be the next arena for the futilities that await us as we attempt to make the world a better place through misguided adventures into the unknown.

We need to pause and remember.  We need to remind ourselves that this number, 2,852,901 should remind us of our commitment to everything we hold dear and honor those who gave us the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine of tomorrow.  We need to realize that “shock and awe” are words spoken to awaken us to our responsibilities as human beings, as Americans.