The masterminds of 911, whether they intended to be or not, were geniuses. Not because they managed in the most terrifying way to collapse the Twin Towers but because their hideous act successfully severed our nation from its bearings. They didn’t just viciously murder nearly 3,000 Americans and temporarily shut down various financial institutions and disrupt the flow of commerce for a while. That wasn’t their goal. They created an ominous, debilitating, relentless fear among us. A terrorizing fear that still to this day remains in force in the lives of so many Americans. A fear writhing and twisting in hate. An irrational fear. A fear that gallops headstrong through our churches and schools, our Congress, our businesses and our homes. And that fear has made us so distrusting of people, so neurotically detached from reality, so emotionally hardened, bigoted and vengeful, that it is in many ways destroying us. That’s what terror is supposed to do. Weaken. Cripple. Confound. Torment. Divide and conquer.
And in many sadly demoralizing ways it has accomplished that here in our great country.
Look at us. Where are we as a nation? Bitter. Angry. Enraged really. Full of hate for others, for not only people who don’t look like us, who aren’t of our race, who don’t totally share our religion, who are not of our class, but of anyone who disagrees with us, who dares to have thoughts or ideas contrary to our own. We are imodestly impolite. Brazenly rude. Furiously irritable. We don’t respect anything. We mock our president over and over. We betray any basic concept of Christianity by using it to get votes, to discriminate against Blacks and Hispanics, gays and women, to justify our greed, to convince ourselves we are better than other countries or cultures because they are primitive and we are God’s chosen ones. How utterly empty and repugnant that is.
We are enveloped in fear. And fear when it’s finished with us drains us of all the beauty in life. It destroys our trust. It causes us to imagine the worst. It appeals to beastly, lurid things within us. It shreds any hope of cooperation or negotiation or a willingness to listen to the other side. It leaves us endlessly offended by someone or some thing.
Novelist Donna Lynn Hope has written, “We aren’t civilized, even in our business suits and high heels. People are as mean as ever, and as predictable. Underneath it all, we are not so different from what lurks in the wild, perhaps we’re worse.”
That is precisely the thing the terrorists wanted us to believe about ourselves. Their evil genius was to get us to turn to some primitive force inside ourselves, some maligning depravity, something deeply cruel and unfeeling so that we would then torment each other into complete civil disarray.
And you know what? It worked. Dammit, it has worked so well. And we just keep on feeding the evil they envisioned.
© 2015 Timothy Moody