This is my 9/11 Rant. When people talk about how a few suicidal maniacs crashing planes into buildings “brought us together” I have no idea what they’re talking about. As I see it, this country has never been more divided. The hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Our government went to war against Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? Nobody in the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Afghanistan directed the attacks. Our government was angry, and like an angry child, they decided to hit somebody. The division of Americans who approve and Americans who don’t approve has caused arguments as severe as those that led to the Civil War.
But it’s become more insane than that. It’s not just about wars any more. I recently quit a discussion on Facebook because my opponents refused to abide by what I consider the two ground rules of debate: 1) no name-calling and 2) no making stuff up. What’s the point of debating if the other side is going to lie and throw insults around instead of discussing verifiable facts?
And it got worse than that. One opponent insisted that because I do not share her religion that I’m going to hell. I asked her why she believes in hell when most translations of the Bible don’t use that word. She didn’t answer. So, I asked why she believes the Bible. Again, no answer. She says I’m too liberal for her to talk to and my head is in the sand and I’m going to hell.
So, we’re down to a fundamental question. Why does anybody believe anything? Our government wants us to believe there was a good reason to go to war against Iraq and Afghanistan. But they don’t give us reasons. People who believe what they are told, put their lives on the line for our government. Those of us who want proof, feel fear on their behalf.
My Facebook opponent wants me to believe in her religion. Why? Because she read it in a book? Because some religious leader told her to? These are not proofs that I can accept. I get it that she doesn’t want me to go to hell. I suppose that is kind of her. But she thinks I need to believe her religion in order to be saved from her imagined hell. And that she thinks her God needs her help to save me. But in all religious books, the people who are active in the stories have had their own personal encounters with their deity. They have reason for what they say and do. My opponent has had no such experience. What is her reason?
This is the core divide now; People like me who want reasons and facts and people who are capable of believing what they are told. This seems to be an impassable divide. Far more serious than about who can own slaves, or can a state secede from the union -- it's about us all becoming slaves to dogma, being forced to join a union that we never voted for.
I don’t expect the religious fanatics to win, to destroy our democracy far more thoroughly than the terrorists even planned. But our democracy will continue to suffer until we find a common ground on which to communicate.