Post 9/11 Thoughts

10th anniversary, it seems unreal that a moment in time that is so vividly recalled could be so long ago.

The particulars of where any of us was is less interesting than the sense of unreality, the astonishment of seeing other people going about their day as if it were any normal day – even though they were fully aware of what had happened, but apparently without consideration of what the events meant, could have meant, and still mean.

9/11 was not just putting the US on notice that it’s shores and people are within reach of any enemy of the American State – the USA’s collective bubble that war and it’s impact is something that occurs over there, somewhere else; that America can exist without suffering the consequences of it’s modern foreign policy or the stand taken by the founders in declaring the United States of America’s existence, the social experiment of the individual as the unit of consequence and not the family, the tribe, the community as defined by ethnic and cultural signifiers – of which, religion is a major signifier.

I think that this is why Americans do not learn about the wars with Canada in the 1800’s, or if they have, these are reduced to mere border skirmishes or Canada just being a staging ground and these wars were merely part of the war of independence from Europe. This way, they can pretend that they have never been attacked on their ground – never mind that it was Canada who set fire to the president’s home office and it was white washing over the smoke damage that the place became known as the White House. The name stuck, but the cause was forgotten and the  covering up reality with a bold mythos became the new reality.

So Pearl Harbour becomes the galvanizing and rallying moment – the first collective bruising and 9/11 the first peace time assault and wound. Deeper than the earlier cuts, because it was so unexpected, unprecedented, so from outside the bubble that it seems that it was more inevitable, obvious even, to all but those within the cultural bubble, that consequence free existence that is usually limited to only the most paranoid of dictators. Well, not counting the constant vigilance and paranoia – wearing enough on their own, even with being ended by the equally inevitable coup – which can be the only means to depose the exceptionally paranoid who seeks to destroy anticipated enemies.

Aside: I suppose that this is why the earliest myths are of kings putting babies to death, and in that seeking to eliminate enemies still in the cradle, only ensures their doom by the callousness of their actions – for how can a king be trusted to lead a nation, when he cannot trust babies.

Prophecies are efficiently self-fulfilling.

But, America is not North Korea – although, I have begun to wonder if it’s only because they have to hold elections every four years, so no particular person becomes entrench and embattled at the top – they still take turns while the population marches lock step in the cultural wars that never end, but are fought over and over and over again in new forum.

I saw a website once, encouraging pregnant women to drive in High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (HOV lanes) in order to challenge the law and assert that the unborn count as a passenger – a very novel and unexpected mechanism to challenge Roe vs Wade in traffic court. It actually took me a few moments to understand the concept, because at first, I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not – Poe’s Law proves so true that there’s really no exceptions.

Which, makes for interesting analysis of 9/11 – on the heels of the suggestion that American foreign policy on Israel is to support that state in order to meet the conditions for Revelation – because then George W Bush’s failure to act on intelligence reports dating back to the Clinton ear, the US seemingly to allow 9/11 to happen without resistance, without attempts to mitigate, seems to start to make startling sense in a far more insidious fashion than even 9/11 Truthers could imagine…

Quotes depend on context, so, without apology to Margaret Mead

No matter what was intended, and who did or didn’t do anything and who sought an advantage and who sought to mitigate and who sought truth and who has tried to impose truth – there is truth to be gleaned – and that truth is that history has a way of coming to a head – whether it’s a slow rolling boil or a sudden burst of energy.

9/11 was a cumulative event and the first mass violent culmination of the clash between religious and secular thinking. Nothing in the history of religious violence could have prepared us for it – not even the crusades, witch trials or Inquisition, as these were all religion on religion violence.

There simply was not a secular world for religion to previously wage war upon – not until after the Magna Carta enshrined law and began the process of peasantry not being alive but for the whim of the King, not until after the founding of democracy and the individual becoming the unit of social consequence, not until humanist liberal thinking, which freed people from the social limitations imposed by accident or happenstance of birth, not until there was a secular world to attack.

Until 9/11, the attacks on the secular world were from within the democracy, the attempts by religious groups to blockade rational, secular and scientific education and thinking – and if not blockade it by banning thoughts from school, especially elementary school – since children are the future, with personalities firm and formed by 6 years of age and under the steep influence of formative experience – so getting them young is what brands the brain into consumer loyality, including the consumer’s marketplace of ideas. Where religion could not compete without massive peer pressure, apologetics and everyone playing nicely and pretending that there’s some merit, if not by sheer numbers of adherents as if, with access to education, economic participation and being of consequence that any followers would even be adherents – then at least through courtesy of respecting beliefs rather than respecting people’s right to – but not the actual belief.

Which is why religionists seek to “teach the controversy” – since this gives the appearance of ideas being at least equally valid even if they are not in fact equal. But, the religious ideas are not valid and have no claim to be considered valid on the face of them.

If we learn anything from 9/11, it’s that religion cannot be at peace with any competitor and that as long as religion has any share of the public square, there will be violence and cost to society.

What’s needed is a massive shift in thinking – religion is the new smoking.

It’s okay to be religious, but there needs to be a secular disincentive to allowing second hand religion to be imposed on or impact others.

The problem is less the extreme fundamentalists and more the moderates who by virtue of giving any credibility to religion, gives rise to the fanatics who are grounded in the moderates.

Without religious moderates, fanatics would be unvalidated, unsupported, unfunded, unprotected, unvarnished and without the veneer of respectability, of crediblity and of consequence that the moderates provide.

Education is the key – good science education, solid critical thinking skills and humanist approach to each person’s achieving their potential.

Isolation and homogeneous experience is the enemy of reason – if each of us believes that all other people are the same and we are the only ones who think or feel or beleive something contrary to the masses – we are isolated and alone – but, the more people and cultures we expose ourselves to – the truly universal things – the need for survival basics aside, but the need to love, to be loved, to be secure, to create, to endure, to thrive, to laugh, to be.

We are all people with the same needs and drives – but we need not all be the same – which is what religion would have us be – to be and live according to one idea, to be all the same in service and worship to something that is not proven to be real, that we are asked to accept on faith alone, on nothing more than the word of people now and through history who have benefited monetarily, socially and politically….

People who would convince the masses that the best reward is awaiting the people who suffer, who accept their lot, their station, their place in the world – this place being the bottom and as a follower…

Religion is an effective tool to control the masses, but the world is no longer run by a handful of kings and priests – there are 7 billion people, all of whom are deserving of more than playing atmosphere and extras – the story of the world is in that cast of hundreds of millions, billions – and not the handful of people who sought advantage or were born to advantage.

Religion is no longer the best tool in a world where literacy isn’t the exception, where the ability to control reproduction and infant mortality, change fatal illness and epidemics into manageable illness, where more people live in urban than rural areas and the fruits of our labour is no longer the fruits from the field.

Human scale is no longer what we produce with our manual labour, but has shifted to what we can imagine and bring about – human scale is the human mind – unlimited and unfettered. We are capable of paradigm shifts without a clutch.

9/11 was such a shift.

We have only to determine the direction of the collective acceleration and not just allow shift to happen.

Onward Christian Soldiers – March off to War

As a humanist, I am somewhat amused by the idea of humanist chaplains being added to the US military’s chaplain corp.

The idea that there are no atheists in foxholes should be challenged, but also examined.

Believers would like to think that atheists are childish perpetually rebelling adults and that when push comes to shove, we put aside our anger at god and we really do believe.

That isn’t the case at all, atheists are in foxholes. In fact, when you are in danger, taking the time to pray and ask to be delivered, is when you are more likely to be killed because you stopped paying attention to the surroundings that are endangering you.

But, should there be atheists in foxholes? That is a more compelling question. Why should an atheist join the military at all? Career opportunities and training –the involuntary American draft of the lower and middle classes has ended and been replaced by a voluntary poverty draft of the economically disadvantaged. The US military is the employer of last resort.

Sure the US military has the most tricked out hardware and sophisticated tactics, but a military compromised of such a mixed bag of people who have varying degrees of dedication to the task are not an effective force against dedicated and decentralized fanatics who hide among their civilian supporters, because they are the civilian supporters.

To my mind, the phrase, no atheists in foxholes, should mean that no atheist was dumb enough to sign up for military service and risk their lives for nothing.

However, patriotism is not limited to theists, although, it is essentially, putting your idea of nation above all other nation ideas – so patriotism is essentially, the religion of citizenship. And fundamentalist patriotism is that My Country Right or Wrong/Might Make Right mentality that dovetails into religious fundamentalism.

We cannot fight fanaticism with reason and rationality – we need to fight it with fanaticism directly and reason indirectly.

I have long thought that the way to deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan is with an all female army, preferably when they’ve synced up their menstruation cycles – the Taliban would have little option but to flee the fields. The only way to fight a fanatic is by presenting them with their worst fears.

So, leave the humanists and marginally religious soldiers stateside, they won’t perform as well as fundamentalist soldiers and will require more post battle trauma counseling and won’t ever be able to return to combat status.

Theists are easier to convince to die for a cause if it’s connected to their god’s will aka higher power that will reward them for their sacrifice. There is very little separating a Fundamentalist Christian/Patriotic soldier from a fundamentalist jihading suicide bomber – with the except that the suicide bomber is more dedicated to the cause in that they are absolutely laying down their life. Whereas a soldier in a troop, may survive the various battles and war overall.

It is to the military’s advantage to have religious/patriotic soldiers – soldiers who are dedicated to the purpose experience less post traumatic stress disorder because they can justify what they see as necessary to the higher purpose.

When soldiers have joined for the career and training opportunities and it’s their bad luck that a couple of wars are on – even the ones who initially joined after 9/11 to protect their country – once you question the purpose of the conflict, you necessary can’t ignore what’s happening around you. It starts a cascade failure of meaning and purpose – thus the soldier becomes traumatized.

It helps the US military avoid the expense and loss of manpower when they don’t have soldiers who will become traumatized. It is also to our society’s advantage to send only the religiously motivated – because they will experience less psychologically trauma and be able to reintegrate upon their return home, but also because this would remove an aggressive segment of our society from the gene pool for those who do not.

One of the main purposes of war is to reduce population, directly through battle but also indirectly in the aftermath of famine and disease. War is what happens when you put too many rats in the cage, they battle with each other until the number of rats is supportable by the resources available.

Planet Earth is our cage and there’s not enough resources for everyone, something’s got to give, and it’s better to eliminate the obstructionist portion of society – the religious sector – so that the rest of us can get on with the business of shifting from fossil fuels to other sustainable fuels, to sustainable societies that are better able to get along and cooperate with each other the way we need to do and that religion is one of the major stumbling blocks to.

We have to stop thinking locally and think globally and part of thinking globally is that diversity is good and that no one group of people is any better than any other group of people, we’re all in this together.

As long as the focus of the world in on one religion over another, we are never going to collectively step up and say that none are better than any other – so it’s up to those who have stepped away from the my religion is better than your religion argument and notice that religion is hampering our species sustainability.