Definition: Make or become accustomed or used to something.
There was date that was burned into our collective memory 16 years ago….9-11. We will never forget that date or that day. Where we were, what we were doing, the emotions we felt. We will never forget the shock and utter desperation we felt. For us living in the metro New York area we have been spared of any other terrorists attacks since that fateful day. There have certainly been attacks elsewhere including Boston, Miami, San Bernardino and Las Vega but nothing has hit so close to home. Until Tuesday, October 31, 2017 when eight people lost their lives and several more were severely injured when a man took a truck and rode down a bike path along the West Side Highway with one intention: to kill people in the name of God, for the cause of Islam. 10-31.
At our morning Bible study the next day our friend Mike commented how he was surprised at how non-reactive he was to this attack. I had the same response. There was sadness…there was disgust but there was not a strong emotional reaction. We wondered if we have just gotten used to it, gotten accustomed to death and destruction. Wondered if we have habituated to evil and its terror. And we were not the only ones wondering about that. I have read numerous articles and posts asking the same thing: Have we gotten so accustomed to things that use to be considered so outrageous and beyond our experience? After Columbine and the first few school shootings the next ones were reacted to with a phrase along the lines of “here we go again.” It was sad and perturbing. But shocking? No.
Habituation can at times work to our advantage. We can block out annoying noises, ignore certain physical pain or disregard abhorrent odors. Sometimes we need to habituate to a crying baby or an alarm that won’t stop beeping or the crammed quarters of a crowded subway car. We can push forward and move on and endure very difficult situations because of the mind’s ability to habituate. But at times habituation can work to our disadvantage, like when the crying baby needs attention or the alarm is indicating an actual fire or the person next to you is lifting your wallet out of your pocket or purse.
I pray that God keeps our hearts soft so that we do not habituate to the point we stop caring or stop responding. I pray that He keeps our hearts warm so they do not grow cold. I pray that He keeps our hearts moldable so they do not turn stiff and rigid. I pray that we never become accustomed to terror and hatred, sickness and starvation or the loss of life. And I pray that we care about the things He cares about.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:25 – 27)
May we never forget 9-11. May we also remember 10-31.
What do you think? How does it make you feel?