As the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on this great nation has come today, I took some time to reflect on my own life and how I have changed in the last ten years. One day I will write a post about what that particular day was like for me, but for now I want to focus on how I've grown as an individual since then.
As a young kid, I always felt there was something wrong with religion. I could never quite place a finger on it and was certainly afraid to mention it in the household I grew up in. But from an early age, I saw how bitter differences in religious dogma and theology can lead to ugly disagreements with people. My father was a good catholic man and my mother had been catholic but converted to an evangelical when I was around 6. This caused much tension in our home, especially every sunday as the children were torn as to which parent to go to church with and who would suffer the serious dinner table discussions on sermons and passages and symbols. My parents loved each other very much and still do and I am forever grateful for their bond that gave us a relatively stable home, but religion was always the 900 pound gorilla in the room. When I went off to college I was finally free to find my own way of living without the oppressive guilt and judgement of my actions as viewed by my parents. I was able to put religion on the back shelf of my mind for a few years while I figured out who I was and who I wanted to become in life.
9/11/01 hit when I was 21 and just finishing the college chapter in my life and it immediately brought the religion issue right back to the forefront as we as a nation found out who attacked us and why. Only this time it was from an extreme version of Islam instead of two versions of Christianity. Over the last ten years I have slowly researched religions in general and have put much thought into how certain beliefs, faith-based beliefs, can lead to such hatred and violence toward others who don't think the same way. I found this to be a common theme for the 3 major world religions. As I researched the histories of these faiths I started to see the horrors played out all over the world (and especially in the middle east) as wars and genocide and evil, vile acts were committed against those with different faiths or none at all. In fact, wars over religious ideology have been going on for millennia and have accounted for some of the worst our species has ever done on this planet to each other. All this done in the name of their god.
This understanding has led me inexorably to the launching of this blog. Where I can share my research and thoughts with the rest of the world in an effort to help free the minds of those who are locked into their own little worlds and who fail to realize that the enormity of life on this planet far exceeds that which can be read from any holy book. Spirituality can be a wonderful thing if harnessed for the good of mankind and this planet and this universe. It's only when spirituality loses itself in religious ideology and dogma that it can become a weapon of evil under the guise of holiness. No one person or group can ever understand the will of their god or of this universe. This should be the first warning sign as people with power will tend to use it for their own gains. Anyone who claims to know the will of god and uses that claim to force something onto someone else is performing the most heinous of acts towards their fellow man and towards civilization. It's when this rhetoric gets ramped up a notch that it can become violent and, in this technological age, civilization-destroying. But in all honesty, it is not that far a stretch between the two and only takes a few misguided people to destroy the lives of millions.
I hope that for all who read this blog, that my posts do offer some fresh ideas and thoughts to put organized religion into perspective as a global issue that has to be dealt with eventually if we are to progress. That fact that these religions cannot be reconciled with each other, coupled with the fact that the overwhelming evidence against their stories being even remotely true should lead us all as a species to reject this type of detrimental dogma, for the sake of all of us on this planet to get along and, in long-term cosmological terms, survive. Nothing would be more tragic than a species eradicating itself from the universe for something that amounts to a terrible idea.
Let us instead make a conscious effort to search for the truth that can be found in this world and the commonality that we all share as primates, members of planet earth and partners in the global effort to exist. Let us take thought for the other person and not be so quick to judge if their actions or rituals or cultures differ or seem strange. Let us find common human values that can be applied to all people so that life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is not just an American ideal, it is a human ideal. Respect for life, respect for this fragile rock we live on and respect for the unbelievable power of the universe to give and take away life. Let us use our brains to make something positive of this ride called life. That we are the universe becoming self-aware is possibly the most beautiful thing to imagine and should be cherished and not toyed with lightly for the fanciful thoughts of a better after-life. This is all we know for sure that we get, so let's make the most out of it for all of us as a species.
As we pause to remember the terrible events of September 11, 2001 and all those who lost their lives that day to fanatical religious ideology, let us also think about ourselves and how we should treat each other moving forward. This world can be a beautiful place. It's up to us to make it so.