I have just returned from a quick weekend trip down to Oklahoma City. A well needed getaway to Bricktown, USA that turned out to be a great growing experience. John and I have made a point of really taking advantage of the different culture, demographics, communities, political mindsets, takes on services, etc., of areas here in America knowing that we have so much to learn from the people that are closest to us. Don't get me wrong Bricktown was completely a leisure trip and was a needed escape from reality not only for John and I and the chaos of getting ready for Africa, but also our friends Ben and Josh who went along. But there are cool things that you can reflect on and take away from just normal, even tourist like, experiences.
In retrospect this "tourist" trip was one that will affect me for a lifetime. It was not my first time in OKC, but it was my first time in OKC in the rain. Rain doesn't seem like a life changing factor but in this case, in this city, in this community, rain made this trip a complete impact.
The whole weekend walking around an underpopulated, gray, gloomy, tourist mecca of the southern Midwest, Bricktown, OKC, we kept coming to the same conclusion... This new entertainment district hasn't seemed to figure its identity out. Nothing really seemed to go together. Did it want to be based around the baseball and basketball facilities? Did it want to be known for its "Brick" history? Was the canal the focus? We could never figure out the point of the area. The weather was gloomy and the morale of the people was low, it was out of season for crowds to be drawn, and plus it was a Sunday and a Monday (even though it was St. Patty's day), but even with that said everything just seemed off. Then it was time to leave and the rain set in... and then the uneasiness of the area started to make sense.
On the way out of town we made our way by the Federal Building memorial. I had been there before, but never in the rain. I remember what seemed like time stopping in '95, but had never felt the impact like this. I remember practicing bomb drills in elementary school after the fact but never felt the devastation like I did on Tues. This visit was different. This visit put a lot into perspective. Maybe it was the rain, maybe the conflict in the middle east, maybe my anxiousness for our time in Africa, maybe I just wanted to be affected more. I'm not real sure, none-the-less this was different. It was just an eerie stop at the memorial. It was gray, it was empty, it was drizzling rain in a way that was more inconvenient than anything. And through all that it hit me. People never really do forget, people never quit hurting, people never really feel safe again.
We get a sense of those things because we are forced to believe it by hearing it from Government officials day in and day out in regards to 9/11, but until now I don't think I fully grasped what the impact of terrorism, hate, suffering, and loss really was. I guess it is more ignorance than anything.
There were not many people at the memorial probably because of the weather or maybe because it was mid day Tues. but you could feel a tension, a sadness, a sense of misunderstanding in the atmosphere. It was one of those times in my life when my heart was tugging hard and a sense of clarity started to come over me. Its not that Bricktown had not found its identity, its not that Bricktown didn't know what it wanted. OKC had been robbed, OKC has been put in a situation where it must move forward but never disregard its past. Its not that people don't forget, its that people wont forget. Terrorism isn't just an act that affects someone and in time is easily dismissed, it is an act that drags the life out of communities, cultures, and people. Terrorism is an act that can leave a thriving community in an identity crisis trying to move on but never wanting to forget.
My eyes were opened this damp weekend in OKC. My mind was cleared of ignorance and my heart was willing to wrestle with the idea that we are global citizens with a responsibility, not just to see justice and end to poverty, genocide, hunger, and terrorism, but we are a people who has a responsibility to support the hearts of fellow brothers and sisters that have been devastated. That even though we have not been directly affected we have a duty to not forget either. The suffering is what allows for healing, the willingness to be ONE and understand is what allows us to keep going.