Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mustering Courage Without Mustering Troops

Thirteen years have passed since the heinous tragedy of September 11, 2001.  Over three thousand human lives were violently destroyed that horrible day.  In hindsight, I find the response mounted seems only to have stirred the whirlwinds of further violence and chaos.  Striking back resulted in more than thirty thousand additional civilian deaths and trillions of dollars expended on warfare that could have been spent on education, infrastructure and diplomacy.

Part of me wants to blame my country's vengeance on the cognitive dissonance of religious belief.  As a nation of a high percentage of Christians one would think the Humanist principles of Thou Shalt Not Kill, Turn the Other Cheek and Love Thy Neighbor touted by biblical mythos would come into play significantly.  Instead, Smite Thine Enemy is the atavistic vengeance (rebranded as "justice") that my hawkish country chooses to embrace.

Part of me wants to blame my country's violent behavior on our evolutionary inheritance.  We are the genes that our parents' parents won for us.  Since Nature is the landscape of survival of the fittest, individuals and social networks that have made it this far by demonstrating physical strength will continue to do so, unless we press for Humanistic morals to trump brutish territory and resource disputes

At my core, I feel empathy for all who have lost loved ones to violence whether on September 11th or any other day of the year.   Overall, I am deeply troubled that our governments are not working harder to expand diplomacy, infrastructure and education.  Instead they seem caught in a political cycle of violence which rewards military strength and profitable industrial weapon complexes at the cost of millions of human lives.

Still, I realize Goodness is a slowly won cause that will take great courage to move towards. Humanity has the potential to rise above our inherited dogma and genetic desires and to plan long term using all the understanding and perseverance we can muster.  Our reward is a world that is either increasingly stable and thriving or increasingly chaotic and divisive.  Which world will we choose?


  1. So glad to see the United States leveraging military resources to support the Ebola crisis in Africa. Wouldn't it be grand if the world's military might could refocused on crises external to human conflict. Slowly we shall awaken to the fact that we are one Humanity connected to each other and the world!

  2. A lot of worthy points here - and I too noted the decision to deploy the U.S. military to deal with Ebola. As always, I wonder what practical steps ordinary folks can take to address these issues. Raising awareness is a good start.
    Here are a few follow-up readings if anyone is interested.

    Writer/activist Rebecca Solnit has written a number of pieces reflecting on 9/11 and what has happened since then, including pieces urging those who seek change to take the long view.;

    And here, on a not-entirely-unrelated and not-overly-optimistic note, is a recent NY Times OpEd piece on what the writer sees as the "great unraveling."


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