Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11, 2001; and Looking Ahead

On September 11, 2001, thousands of people died in an attack on cities along the east coast of North America. The attack was carried out by people who apparently didn't approve of America, America's way of life, and anything else that wasn't exactly consistent with what they preferred.

I'm not entirely pleased about some aspects of America's contemporary culture, either: but slaughtering thousands of folks I don't like isn't a reasonable response. I'll get back to that.

Since 9/11/2001, a remarkable number of national leaders have decided that getting killed by religious fanatics isn't a good thing. Even more remarkable, many have committed to an armed response to the threat of Al Qaeda and like-minded outfits.

I think peace is nice. I think war is very unpleasant. But sometimes peace isn't an acceptable option.

The Job at Hand

In the short term, the job at hand is dealing with the sad fact that some folks would like to kill more people who don't dress and act the way they want us to. Since asking nicely hasn't worked in the past, my guess is that military action in the Middle East and other parts of the world will continue to be necessary.

Tolerance, Real and Imagined

While dealing with the physical threat posed by religious fanatics, I think it's vital to preserve the tolerance that earned America their hatred. That's going to be difficult, since my country is home to some folks who seem as fervently dedicated to their own notions as any Al Qaeda zealot.

One lot seems to feel that 'Muslims and other foreigners' are a Satanic threat to their own views of how everybody should dress and act. These folks see "tolerance" as allowing others to agree with their views: even if the others look like foreigners.

Another lot seems convinced that all religion is a sort of psychiatric condition or social pathology. These folks see "tolerance" as allowing others to hold differing opinions: as long as the 'intolerant' people keep quiet, and do whatever the 'tolerant' folks tell them to.

I'm not at all fond of either sort of 'tolerance.'

Sorting Out 'Quirky' and 'Constant'

Tolerance has been defined as "a permissible difference; allowing some freedom to move within limits." (Princeton's WordNet) I think that's reasonable.

One of the major challenges in today's world is determining just what "some freedom" means. We're going through exciting and promising changes - which means that quirky little preferences that may have worked a few generations back simply don't apply any more.

The trick will be distinguishing between rules that don't matter, like which side of a plate the fork goes on, and ethical principles that apply to 'left fork,' 'right fork,' and 'no fork' folks. It's not going to be easy: but it's necessary. And that's another topic.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.