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Who is the Real Enemy?

13 min read

By Charles Smith


November 18, 2001

Since September 11th, I am at war. I feel like I’m at war. I want to be at war. I’m told I’m at war every day in pictures of a God awful desert, and nasty looking men who look like they want to eat me.  Being at war, I want to fight, but I don’t know who to fight. There is no obvious enemy near me and I think I’m too old to join the military.  I don’t own a gun and want to buy one. I’m also afraid I will shoot the Fedex driver. Afghanistan reminds me of Vietnam without trees. I see us moving from bombing to special forces to ground troops to a limited war of attrition we can’t win. Then, I think it’s the Chinese who are behind this. I heard on PBS radio that two Chinese military strategists published a book in the past two years in which dreadful terrorist action was proposed as the way to combat United States power and influence. Or maybe it’s the North Koreans and they are using Muslims as their agents. I worry about widespread pestilence and danger to my children and friends. Then, I think of a future like the movie “Mad Max” in which the world has been wasted and hordes of mutants brutalize each other except for one good looking blonde and Mel Gibson who are the hope for the future, maybe.

I’m at war. But against who?  Who is the real enemy? Osama Bin Ladin isn’t enough. How many times would we have to kill him to end this? The same goes for Saddam Hussein or any of the other thousands of terrorists we know and don’t know.  I’m all for suppressing these people and their supporters, any way we can. I’m also for taking responsibility for alleviating the conditions that cause them to be this way wherever that is possible. And I think evil really exists, and these people are today’s hopeless version.

If we could identify the actual enemy, maybe we could eventually transform or at least, suppress it. After thousands of years of humanity coupled with far too much violence, the question is “Who is the real enemy?”

The enemy, I propose, is Fundamentalism  in any and all of it’s forms. Any system of beliefs and any people who are not inclusive of different beliefs and different people are Fundamentalist. After World War Two, Gordon Allport, a professor at Harvard College wrote a book, “The Nature of Prejudice” in which he said that all prejudice was the same. Prejudice, as he stated it, can mean avoiding someone, talking against them, restricting their freedom of movement, concentrating them, or finally killing them. But it was all the same phenomenon.  Fundamentalism and prejudice are the same. While most Fundamentalists don’t kill anybody, they all make other points of view wrong and their own right. They never suspend their assumptions and listen to other points of view.  They don’t “have” their beliefs.  They belong to their beliefs.  Fundamentalists always have perfectly logical arguments to justify their beliefs and are not open to more inclusive logics.  Any particular Fundamentalism seems crazy if you don’t believe it, and has the power of the Word of God as experienced from inside. Fundamentalism is a major cause of today’s violence in obvious and not obvious ways.

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