By the time most of my readers see this post, it will be September 11th, 2011.
It's strange to think that it is both only and already ten years since that horrible day. I was home with a sinus infection that day and slept in a bit. I came downstairs at about 8:30, turned on the TV and went into the kitchen to make some breakfast. But then I heard from the TV that a plane had crashed into one of the WTC towers. I went back to living room to see what was happening, only to be stunned to see a second plane fly right into the other tower. My heart sank as I realized, along with the rest of the world, that we were under attack.
The rest of that day is sort of a blur. I watched people leap from the towers and cried. I heard that the Pentagon had been hit and cried. I watched the towers fall and cried. At some point, I called my mother, surprised that I actually got through. The fourth plane went down in Shanksville and I cried again. In the hours and days that followed, I cried a lot. Seeing all of the pictures go up of the missing was awful. Thinking about the fear and pain of those innocent people was awful. Hearing accounts of bravery and heroism helped, but it was still just awful. I spent three days feeling numb and horrified and... awful.
Nothing that has happened in the ten years since that terrible day has made me feel better about any of it. Thousands more have been killed in the two wars that followed. Hundreds of first responders have fallen ill by being exposed to the toxins produced by the attack. Thousands of children grew up never knowing fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts.
And all it because of religious fanaticism.
I had a wonderful high school civics teacher who once said "Every war is a holy war, because both sides think God is on their side." That may well be true, but there is absolutely nothing 'holy' about war. Or mass murder. Or the pain and suffering that results from them. Honestly, what kind of God would take sides in the wholesale slaughter of His children? What kind of God would tell Jim Jones to force his followers to drink poison? What kind of God would tell David Koresh to burn his followers alive? What kind of God would tell Adolph Hitler that Jews were the cause of all ills in the world? What kind of God would tell Fred Phelps; Sally Kern; Maggie Gallagher; Bryan Brown; Pete LaBarbera; Beverly LaHaye and any other number of so-called Christians - including the Pope - that gay people are worse than terrorists?
Here's the thing: Hate is learned. Hate is taught. Hate is born of ignorance.
Don't get me wrong. I still have hope that the Human Race will someday come to realize that we are all the same, despite our differences. But until we do (and I can only imagine that contact with extraterrestrials will cause that to happen), we are doomed to repeat the cycle of hatred and xenophobia that permeates modern society. I can only hope to live long enough to see the day when every human being is treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve, no matter who we are or what we believe.