All profoundly altered my view of the world in general and of my own country in particular. Some revealed a side of us I never wanted to believe existed.
This happened, allegedly, because some fanatical religious people hated America and our “policies” so much that they felt we had to suffer in a big way. No detail was spared in the planning of this cataclysm, nor innocent life spared in its execution. (I almost forgot - there are no innocents among infidels.)
Oh, and it happened because a handful of nuts were able to get box cutters on a plane. That’s all it took to knock America off its feet, at least for a time. God, we suck!
So we eventually undertook an ill-conceived conflict in the Middle East (more biblical stuff) that was a detour from our original, legit mission over there: Get the fuckers who did the deeds I spoke of in the last few paragraphs.
Last time I checked, Osama was still running around taunting us whenever the mood strikes him, and the Taliban and Al Qaeda were still in business, albeit from mobile headquarters.
Oh, but we got Saddam! He's Han Solo encased in carbonite in Jabba's lair. Quite a trophy.
We strayed from our payback mission, and were inexcusably unprepared for our new operation.
I guess we get the war we have, not the one we might want or wish to have. Destroy the infrastructure, disband the army, leave the gates open to the coyotes and send our people out in tin cans on wheels with no armor.
Not all those people are innocent, though. Those who carried out torture and killings on prisoners or civilians went seriously off mission. They’re Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, sitting amongst the severed heads of the natives. The horror. The horror.
The horror was very much my own; I honestly didn’t think we were capable of such base acts, especially in the 21st century. I was naïve, now I’m ashamed and disillusioned.
9/11 leads to Abu Ghraib: Evil truly begets evil.
Hurricane Katrina was a domestic disaster that was almost equal parts natural and manmade. We can’t control the weather, but we can plan, we can act, and we can care.
What I saw in the aftermath of that storm was many of the most disadvantaged, vulnerable people in this modern, sophisticated country of ours bundled together under ratty blankets and sleeping on asphalt for days on end. Others were just floating motionless down rivers that were once streets.
What I heard from many fellow citizens was that those idiots should have just hopped in their cars and checked into a four-star hotel somewhere inland before the storm. It was their own damn fault they were in this situation now. The words “poor,” “homeless,” “elderly” and “infirm” just don’t translate for some.
Evil is not cursing, fornicating, drinking and carrying on. Those are trifling details in the big picture. Willful ignorance, indifference, hate – these are the evils that create disasters, or exacerbate them. How's that for a revelation?
The locus of evil is right here on earth, where misguided inhabitants make bad decisions that immeasurably impact others every day, not with some mythological devil.
If we’re ever going to turn this thing around, we’ve got a hell of a job ahead of us.
Insert: The Last Judgment by Jan van Eyck
(My brothers used to scare the crap out of me with this image when I was young.)
More on van Eyck:
Whoa, bitch, that kid ain't mine!