September 26th, 2001.
Terror and Religion.
There was a prayer that came from the pen of Mark Twain, probably around the time that America went to war with itself, the north and the south: "O Lord our Father ... help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; ... help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; ... We ask it in the spirit of love, ... Amen." A shorter version of this, many will remember from the great wars of the 20th century, is, "Praise the Lord and past the ammunition." Humorous stuff; but, the atrocities committed against people in the name of religion are not so humorous and have a very, very long history. Look to the history books and one will see example after example of appalling and horrendous acts that man has committed on his fellow men in the name of religion. For example, take the Crusaders. These courageous Christians fought their way through Asia Minor to Jerusalem; and there, after storming the city, massacred thousands and thousands of Moslems of both genders and of all ages, and burnt Jews alive in their synagogues; and, at the end of their bloody dealings, were in great ecstasy and elation, as they had accomplish their divine mission -- they had liberated the Holy Sepulchre.
I found it disconcerting to see all the political leaders gather in the Washington Cathedral three days after the terrible events of September the eleventh. Religious belief is an irrational attempt to ascribe meaning to the unknowable; it is a defence which man has raised against "the crushing supremacy of nature"; it is a belief that was prevalent during the infancy of human reason. These religious demonstrations are a cheap and vulgar mode of producing an effect as weirdly dressed people (pure medievalism) sit upon a stage, and, in some cases, mount the box so to cast their vitriol over the grieving audiences. This is a dangerous thing -- is it not. Is it not the same thing that drove these mad terrorists, these more fiercer zealots, to aim the fuel laden planes into the Twin Towers? It was Blaise Pascal who said, in 1670, "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." It is irrationality (as is demonstrated by religion) that we should be fighting, and, by so doing, we will be fighting terrorism.
I must conclude in a manner so that no one may doubt me. To those who maliciously and wilfully blasted a couple of thousand innocent people to bits on the 11th of September, 2001, I owe, as we all do, hatred and scorn, ever lasting! Justice demands that those responsible be removed from us by death. So, too, to those who strengthen them, encourage them, incite them, aid them, succour them, support them, countenance them -- kill them all; but spare the innocent, we want no more innocent people to die. In this grand effort: we should bide our time; we must listen much; we are to swallow insult, and to postpone revenge to the most opportune time. It is at such times we should bear in mind the wisdom of Solomon, our enemy most certainly has:
"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." (The Book of Ecclesiastes.)