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The Learning Curve. September 11, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.

A discussion on my local NPR affiliate today centered around the question, “What have we learned from the experiences we shared on 9/11, 2001?”

I was busy with work and missed most of the call-ins, but I know the real answer is as varied and diametrically diverse as our information sources.

Many, many of us learned that Muslims are Evil, that they Hate us ’cause we’re Free, and that we’re in a Kill-or-Be-Killed Situation, and if we don’t agree, we’re With The Terrorists.

We learned this through endless repetition, immersion if you will, in this language which we’d heard spoken before, but never really spent enough time surrounded by to pick up.Β  We were acculturated into the cult of it, taught the mannerisms and expectations which define us as belonging to it, deprived as we were of the easy option of speaking the language of Reason, the language of our Founding Fathers, the Language of our Heroes and our Saints.

We learned to Love Jesus, to fear The Other, to put our Country First, and to Vote Republican.

Well, some of us did, anyway.

The rest of us though, whether because we didn’t get the memo, or weren’t paying attention, or perhaps because we lacked the requisite certitude and conviction to ignore the tattered facts poking untidily out of their shallow graves, or perhaps because our more complex intellectual palettes preferred to explore the gray areas which we saw as connecting the black to the white rather than dividing the two,

We learned Something Different.

We learned that there are people in the world who are sick and tired of being taken advantage of, being raped and robbed of their resources and paid pennies on the dollar.

We learned that there are people in the world who don’t like it when we supply their brutal dictators with money and weapons and training in return for a guaranteed seat, suckling at their oil-soaked teats while the common people of the land are subjugated and abused, kept broken and ignorant, on Permanent Ignore in the global conversation.

We learned that there are people in the world who hold deep convictions which do not align with ours, and that they have no desire to be disenfranchised of their cultures and religions and their Paradigms of Assumed Truths .

And we learned that they’re willing to die for their beliefs, to fling themselves into the fires of our destruction in order to emerge on The Other Side cleansed and pure and assured of Salvation.

We also learned that trying to change their minds, or trying to make them kneel before us, or trying to crush them with our Awesome Might, even if possible, would cost us plenty, would exact from us an untenable toll, would suck the dying breaths out of the bodies of over four thousand of our Brave Young Men and Women, would make us look away from our horrible handiwork as we rationalized the collateral damage of half a million innocents slaughtered in the cause of Almighty Victory, would rob of us any moral high ground we ever had or claimed or aspired to.

And to our everlasting shame, we learned that we would wring our hands and pay our taxes and meekly decry the kidnappings and the renditions and the torture and the lies and the Cold Blooded Murder meted out In Our Names rather than putting down the tools of our trades, kissing our children one last time, and going down to D.C. with our pitchforks in our hands and our eternal souls in God’s.

It’s been a sobering, humbling seven years riding this Learning Curve, hurtling through an ever narrowing tunnel of darkness on the back of this unrecognizable thing we call America the Beautiful, America the Terrible, One Nation Under God, Inexcusable, Indefensible, Unaccountable, With Liberty and Justice for the Highest Bidder.

And in the end, if we paid any attention at all, we learned that Fundamentalism, be it Islamic, or Christian, or Capitalist, is an evil thing, a poison, an indiscriminate reaper of souls, those of its practitioners who perceive its darkness as The Light, and those who, in opposing it, become the Beast we set out to destroy.

The time for Change is NOW.Β  The Battle is engaged.

Mother Earth, surround us, steady us, be firm beneath our feet.

Father Sky, guide us, light the path We must travel to climb to a better place.

And God, if You’re out there, Have Mercy on our Souls.


1. FranIAm - September 12, 2008

Oh my dear CR… I was listening to this as well, for a little while anyway, as I drove to Canaan Town court to deal with my first speeding ticket ever. (The judge dismissed my case, yay.)

We have learned nothing I am afraid. Society as a whole is galvanized in fear.

I won’t go all religious batshit on you here, but I will simply share a few words from the Gospel for 9/11, set in place by a 3 year cycle many years ago, not chosen for that day specifically…

Jesus said to his disciples:
β€œTo you who hear I say, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.

I think these words are sadly lost on many who profess their love of Jesus and country in the same tight, shallow and deeply frightened breath.

2. Bobbie - September 12, 2008

Fran/Am, I think the entire Gospel is lost on them. Those who claim loudest that they are Christian are those who turn farthest from the teachings of Christ, as we understand them.

I long ago gave up trying to find a denomination of faith whose leaders were actually trying to follow their own teachings. My faith is now between God and me. But the hypocrisy is just more than I can take.

CR, you said it well. Now, can you get the right people to listen? Ah, there’s the rub.

3. sherry - September 12, 2008

me, i’m a happy little eclectic pagan i guess, hate labels.

i take what works and jettison the rest. makes me happy.

4. Bob - September 12, 2008

/signs name to bottom of page/

Ditto, Cuz.

5. littlebangtheory - September 12, 2008

Fran, that’s a beautiful verse, embraced it seems more these days by Godless pagan lefties than by the Stepford Lemmings proclaiming their love of God and Money in the Mega-Churches.

Bobbie, sadly, no. Those who most need to think about these things prefer the cold comfort of the lies of their leaders over the uncomfortable truth of out collective culpability for the actions and attitudes of our government. I consider my rants to be intellectual prayer flags fluttering in the Inter-Winds, signals of solidarity with like-minded souls like you. We need that, or at least I do, to stay strong in the face of these daunting odds.

sherry, you happy little eclectic pagan poet, you make me smile. πŸ˜‰ Keep it up, Gurrrl, this room could use some light!

And Bob, my friend, I’ll always leave room down there for your John Hancock. Glad you’re on board!

6. The Pagan Sphinx - September 12, 2008

I believe in those words of Jesus’ that Fran posted in the first comment. I’m not Christian and it hardly matters. I think Jesus and the Dalai Lama have a lot in common and I try to pay attention to the words of those two men.

CR, this is a brilliante post! If you don’t mind, stop by my blog and accept an award, would you? And if you need a little queer-eye for the straight guy about decorating your blog with this award, I’m sure there’s someone out there who can guide you. πŸ˜‰

7. littlebangtheory - September 12, 2008

Oh, PS, you’re too kind! I’ll go look and see if it’s do-able without my walker, but thank you so much for the kind words!

And same thing back atcha, I’m lost when I go visit you and it hasn’t changed from, oh, two hours ago! πŸ™‚

8. Tengrain - September 12, 2008


If you ever start a religion, I might join it.

Love on you, bro,


9. littlebangtheory - September 12, 2008

Ten, I preach to a very small tent, and they’re already on board, so I’m not framing it as a career track. But you’re always welcome to stop by for a couple of “Amens” when I get moved to testify!

10. susan - September 12, 2008

I’ve been on a winding path for a long time and sometimes it’s lonely but the rewards are great. I’ve met some wonderful people of all denominations and no denominations. This was a magnificent post.

11. The Pagan Sphinx - September 13, 2008

hahhaha…good one, C!!! Wait…it’s still okay to put down the government, right? I mean…you’re not gonna…like get arrested or anything, are you? (looking around suspiciously… : X

12. littlebangtheory - September 14, 2008

[looks around]

13. Mauigirl - September 14, 2008

Very well said. I wish more people had learned what you learned.

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