Saturday, January 21, 2006

Clearing out my head.

So I've been pondering a few posts over the past few days, and finally decided to just get a skeleton of them out of my head and onto here before they pass on by.

First off let's touch on the recent audiotape release supposedly by Bin Laden himself.

This tape supposedly noted 2 topics. One was the notice of intent to attack within the United States if the battle was kept up. The second was the offer of a long-term honorable truce.

A little more detail into these; first Bin Laden noted that it was obvious that the majority of US citizens no longer wanted us to fight Muslims on Muslim soil, and did not want Muslims fighting us on our soil. Due to this, and the fact that Iraq and Afghanistan have been devastated by war, Bin Laden offered a long-term truce to end the conflict and remove our troops from Muslims lands so that they may rebuild their countries.

Now, for a few years the battlefront had been taken into Afghanistan and then Iraq, and became a gravitational point where fighters came to defend Muslim lands and gain fighting experience against the Americans etc. They have done this long enough and are now planning on one of two courses of action... either we refuse their offer of a truce and proceed headlong into our ever escalating bloodbath, with the inevitable and foretold outcome of further "terror" attacks within the US. OR... we take the offer of truce and have at least a chance of ending this bloody conflict.

Mind you, it was obvious that the Republicans and other ignorant ilk of theirs would refuse the offer of truce without even considering it, thereby damning us to further bloodshed with the only possible outcome being thousands more lives lost, an escalation in the violence and further "terrorist" recruitment as well as further attacks within the US. Which of course have the side effect of creating a greater environment of fear in which the ignorant populace gladly gives up it's basic freedoms and liberties to fight a threat created, maintained and bolstered by the willful stupidity, if not downright malice, of the current government. They have a multitude of reasons to continue this "war", and very little motivation to actually end it.

To shed a little more light on this situation, I've run across a few things in the past few days that might enlighten you as to the foe we face. (and I give due credit to Michael Shermer and Scientific American, from which many of the following figures are taken. As well as Thomas Joiner, Marc Sageman and others.)

These are not ignorant people per se... they are not depressed or suicidal. They are not lower class people living in squalor who see no other way out...

75% of all known Al Queda members come from the middle or upper class. 90% come from caring, intact families. 63% had attended college (in contrast to the normal 5% to 6% rate for third world countries). 73% were married and the vast majority had children. 75% were professionals and semi-professionals. Engineers, architects and civil engineers, mostly scientists. "Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion."

This information comes from Michael Shermer's Skeptic column in this month's (January 2006) issue of Scientific American entitled Murdercide.

It goes on to list the social and psychological factors that influence these people to act in the manner in which they do. Things that I already understand, but which I feel the vast majority of Americans have simply no idea about.

This lack of understanding... this ignorance... of a foreign culture and it's religion etc... have led to the deplorable state we now find ourselves in... believing we're fighting ignorant goat raping towel heads that don't know any better and hate us for our freedom and have nothing better to live for... so to get away from their mud huts and caves, they choose to take some of us along with them when they finally kill themselves.

This is a far far cry from the reality of the situation.
"You should be very proud of me. It's an honor, and you will see the results, and everybody will be happy... whatever you do, head high, with a goal, never be without [a] goal, always have a goal in front of you and always think, 'what for.'"
-- Final letter to his wife by Ziad Jarrah, Spetember 11 terrorist who crashed Flight 93 into a Pennsylvania field.
Another thing I've noticed is the media calling these people "radical" Islamists. We should take note of this... these people are fundamentalists. They are following the letter of the law... the word of the Qu'ran. I see the media shying away from calling them fundamentalists... which is precisely what they are... in order to avoid shedding any light on the dangers of fundamentalist religious beliefs and on religion itself. It's a slippery slope they dare not tread near.

We are a nation primarily of Christians who claim to believe in the absolute infallibility of our God... and in his word written in the holy Bible. Yet when God himself states unequivocally that we are to kill anyone who tries to sway us from our beliefs, and to murder homosexuals and witches and any number of other people who simply differ in belief from ourselves... we fail to give any credence to these statements... we pick and choose what we want to believe. We ignore the unsavory... we are in essence disobeying God and calling him fallible. We are stating that his commands are not correct or absolute... that we need not follow his commandments... that our faith in God, against God's own words... is optional and arbitrary.

Are you starting to get the picture?

We have right here in America our own "radical" Christians... our own fundamentalists who believe they have a God given right to murder abortion clinic doctors... or black people, or homosexuals... because they believe the bible tells them that God commands it or condones it. Which it does.

We have these people who through their upbringing and social dynamics have come to believe in a fictional paradigm of reality that reinforces the idea that they are 100% right in their beliefs and their actions, in spite of even overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

So we have this other religion which has been taught to these people from birth, and a society which reinforces the idea that to die in the just cause of fighting the infidels and driving them from your lands is the greatest achievement you could possibly make in this life or the next... and one for which you will be forever remembered as a hero, and spend eternity as a prince in paradise with 72 virgins etc... with your picture and name and story plastered on giant billboards telling of your heroism in your home town etc... this core belief that you are achieving greatness and fulfilling your life, and ensuring a godlike eternity in the afterlife etc... protecting your nation, your family, your religion...

Our stubborn refusal to accept the reality of the situation... our pervasive and breathtaking ignorance and stupidity... is just fueling the fire... creating the very environment in which these people can fulfill the greatest cause of their life... and they are flocking to the chance in ever greater numbers.

Suicide attacks in 2000: 43
In 2004: 163
In 2005: roughly one a day

Percent of all suicide bombings
since 1968 that have occurred
after September 11th:

It is quite obvious to see that the situation has only gotten increasingly worse as time has passed in the last few years since 9/11 as we've driven hard into the middle east in our ignorant bullheaded quest for revenge against a people who we understood very little about. A people who had attacked us in retaliation for very real wrongs that we have committed directly against them and indirectly committed by backing their greatest enemy... the latter being fundamentally a matter of religion.

As Richard Dawkins said... "There are would-be murderers all around the world who want to kill you and me... and themselves... because they're motivated by what they think is the highest ideal. Of course politics are important... Iraq, Palestine, even social deprivation in Bradford. But as we wake up to this huge challenge to our civilized values, don't let's forget the Elephant in the room... an Elephant called Religion."

This brings me, in closing, to another matter.

I've been talking to Russell, my younger coworker, on and off for a couple months now I think... mainly about religion... and he said something very interesting to me about it yesterday. He said that he'd been doing a lot of thinking, and the more he thought, the more he really understood... the more it was all starting to make sense... and that he didn't like it.

He said he was debating asking me not to talk to him about it anymore.

He saw just how real what I was saying was... and the truth made him uncomfortable... and it made him feel like it would be bad for him because he didn't want to know the truth if it meant having to stand up for it. If it meant not being able to feel a part of the group. If it meant having to know someone is wrong and try to hold your tongue... he was afraid of tasting of the sweet nectar of truth and not being able to stop drinking... and to invest the time in research and knowledge and further spiral into a place where he was no longer a happy part of the flock because he saw reality for what it really was.

He had started to catch himself when he went to pray... looking at what he was doing, listening to what he was saying... and it was dawning on him like a sledgehammer what reality actually was.

I think he's reached a point where there's no going back... and the cognitive dissonance and the fear of not belonging... the fear of the unknown... are all weighing heavy on his mind. But I believe he's smart enough that knowing as much as he does... and having already had many of the right questions on his mind, but having just been too afraid to ask them or face the reality of them... he was already toeing the line... and I think I simply nudged him over it.

I think most people don't want to know the truth... they don't want the burden of understanding... perhaps knowledge implies accountability... responsibility...

People don't want to see the reality of the consequences for their beliefs. They don't want to face the uncomfortable truth.

Deep down, most people don't want to know... and I've pushed many of them far enough to get them to admit it. They know the truth, but they don't want to admit it... they don't want to accept it... so that even while they do know the truth, they keep insisting to themselves that the fantasy is real... they take comfort in lying to themselves perpetually and living in a borderline state of fantasy and reality where they only have to face just so much reality from day to day to be able to survive... and beyond that they find solace in their fantasy. "I don't want to believe that my ancestors were monkeys. I don't want to believe that there's no heaven when I die." Even when I've had people admit that they know the truth... they still insist on holding onto the lies, and admit it. They don't want to let go of the comfort those lies provide.

The world makes a lot more sense when you actually start facing the truth. It's not always nice, but it's reality.

So I think that in the end... if people really stopped and looked at the reality of the situation we're in... and understood the cultural, sociological, psychological and religious ramifications of our current predicament... they would see the way out. They would understand the causes and effects.

But we won't do that because to do so would require us to admit the fundamental flaws and errs in our own beliefs. And better to kill our neighbor than face that uncomfortable reality ourselves.

Pity the man who steals another man's dreams.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I must say Bravo! The problem though is that regardless of what you say, or I say, or anyone says we wont be able to change much of anything without action. Now I don't mean to sound -TO- negative. I am simply stating what the past has shown me. Throughout the time of man on this earth, religion has reigned supreme, normally playing on the ignorance of others. Looking back to the Greeks who used it to explain why the sun came up and went down every day, and why there was more rain one year than another. Later on when Christianity was supreme it as a method for the more intelligent to control the not so intelligent. Look back in time, and it was normally one man that controlled an entire civilization through religion, installing fear. I say look back, yet it still happens till today. Anyway I'll stop my ranting now. I hope to see more good work from you soon.