Knowing They'd Go
God's Waiting Arms
From: "Amy Wood"
To: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: A Beacon for Survivors (Heroic Stories)
Date: September 12, 2001 2:02 PM
I am heartsick about what took place in New York, DC, and Western Pennsylvania yesterday. While I am an atheist, I do understand that religion (not a god) can do good things for people -- bring them hope, a sense of community, and in some cases, a sense of morality.
What happened yesterday, however, proved to me that religion can also be evil. The people that perpetrated this series of sinister acts upon humanity yesterday did so in the name of God (whatever god that may be).
What angers and frightens me about yesterday's tragedy is that the folks who took part in it did so fully believing that they were doing God's will. They truly believed that they were martyring themselves for the betterment of the world. They went to their deaths completely at peace, knowing that they would go straight to heaven, straight to God's waiting arms.
While I believe that anyone who has faith should truly embrace it wholeheartedly, I find it impossible to believe that yesterday's death mission was what anyone held dear in his heart.
I know that every day, the faithful pray to their gods for their dearest wishes to come true. Many pray for world peace, for the health and safety of their families, for unity and community. Many will pray today to their gods to get them through this horrible and tragic loss.
At the same time, there will be faithful Palestinians and Afghanis praying today in thanks for these "wonderful" acts which destroyed the "infidels and capitalist pigs" in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania.
How can any group be grateful for such heinous acts of terror? How can one believe that any part of yesterday's tragedy was part of the betterment of the world? That the loss of so many innocent souls could be the work of a god worthy of worship and devotion?
How can one group pray to their god to destroy tens of thousands of lives, while another group prays to their deity for peace and unity? Is this, then, not a battle of men, but a battle of the deities in the minds of these terrorists? And which of these "gods" shall triumph?
I have often been condemned for having no faith in the gods of my coworkers, friends, and even family. At a time such as this, however, I am more proud than ever to be an atheist, separate from anything religious, anything which could be construed as part of this battle of the gods. At the same time, I am sure to be condemned by my peers today for not looking to a god, any god, during this time of tragedy.
Even as I am sickened by the tragedies inflicted by religious terrorists yesterday, I do not condemn all religions because of the acts of one. I do believe that most religions will help survivors and their families get through this difficult time. They will act as a salve on the wounds of the faithful.
An atheist as long as I can remember, I do not have to rely on faith in a supreme being to help me understand, grieve, and recover. Not everyone is as strong in themselves, however.
Therefore, I hope that the truly faithful (if not naïve) can find solace in their faith. At the same time, my heart breaks for those who believe in something so dark, so violent, and so evil that it would cause them to rejoice in yesterday's horror.
I just read Osama bin Laden's quotes on your website. It is truly frightening that such a hateful human walks this earth wielding so much unchallenged power. I lose faith, in a small way, in humanity for allowing this monster to manipulate the masses.
The Afghani people have been beaten into submission by bin Laden and the Taliban. They are quite aware that any betrayal of bin Laden's policies or laws is punishable by death. Clearly, they are frightened of him, frightened to death. At the same time, they cheer his victories, they hang upon his every word, they wholly support their hateful, vengeful despot.
This contradiction is quite baffling to me. Did no one challenge him? Did no one attempt revolt, rebellion, assassination? How are the masses so easily brainwashed? How did one man strike such fear into a nation? How did he convince so many guards, police, and military men to do his bidding unquestioned? How did the Afghani society permit this to happen? Is bin Laden not human, and therefore mortal? Cannot sheer numbers defeat this vicious tyrant? Or are we facing another Hitler, so charismatic and convincing that none dares to contradict his ideas or oppose his power?
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