Americans observed a tragic remembrance yesterday. And because the 9/11 terrorists were avowed Muslims these anniversaries take on very religious tones. But it’s important to remember that the radical agenda of the jihadists leaders didn’t really have anything to do with religion at all. The attack on the World Trade Center was about power – pure and simple.
Yes, the al-Qaeda leaders did manipulate the religious devotion of their Muslim followers. And, yes, the goal of striking at the power of the United States was clothed in religious rhetoric. But this campaign to hold onto or seize power is no different than many, many others in the past – this one just happens to be wearing the mask of Islam. The same type of social manipulation was used by the Catholic Church during the Inquisition and the Crusades, by the Stalinists after the Communist Revolution and by the Nazis during World War II. It was even used by the Bush administration when it channeled the anger of the American public to manufacture a war-for-profit in Iraq.
So it’s critically important to make this distinction, because how we label the problem defines our solution.
As long as we label al-Qaeda and jihad terrorism as a “Muslim problem” we’re chasing the tail of religious intolerance and feeding the beast. But when we recognize it as the latest in a long history of Manplan campaigns by egotistical power mongers (regardless of what they call themselves) we can respond differently. We can pull the rug out from under their campaign of hatred by doing the opposite of what they expect, like:
1. Oppose violence in any form as a response, because history should have taught us that violence begets violence and it always will,
2. Promote respect and communication among ALL the world’s religions, and
3. Strive to bring equality and justice to every religion by doing away with the Manplan rules and attitudes that keep women out of religious authority and control.
I’m totally in favor of any belief system that helps people deal with the struggles and complexities of life, as long as the teachings promote kindness, justice, and ethical behavior. But, as we talk about in Conversations with EVE, too much of religion today only pays lip service to compassion and equality while fiercely opposing any changes that might threaten the power and control of its male leaders.
So, if you want to truly honor the memory of the Americans killed on 9/11, refocus your anger and energy. Use them to work for a world that operates on fairness rather than undeserved privilege and compassion rather than conflict.
Expect the best from your chosen faith, and don’t be taken in by the conspirators who prey on our need to pray!