9/11—america, meet evil... evil, this is america

We met the true face of evil on September 11th, 2001 and it left us standing helpless in the streets, looking up and asking "Why?"

The unfathomable scale of violence struck us dumb. Violence creates very complex grief. There's never a way to make sense of it. Why? For what purpose? What did it achieve? Why my beloved? Questions that echoed back with no answer. Questions that are asked everyday in other parts of the world, but not here. Not in America.
In my book, I defined evil as—
"Systematic brutality, usually done with an innocent expression, which seems to make insanity look sane."
"There is no conscience attached to evil. The shadow it casts over our values makes them seem trite. Evil parades as sanity so as to undermine our sense of reality... Evil is calm. It looks sane." —Companion Through the Darkness
It hides in plain sight. It seduces us into a denial of its presence. It acts with no regard for the carnage it leaves in its path. Evil people serve themselves... their emotional bodies are vacuous—incapable of empathy and others are purely disposable utensils. Understanding evil does nothing to excuse or mend the damage it does. Physical wounds will heal. It's the emotional ones that fester.

"The intangible is hard to bandage."

In the years that have followed, we've done, as a nation, what all young adults do—we've gone to extremes, stumbled from one conclusion to another looking for the enemy, and awakened to the enemy within our own ranks. We've been hoodwinked by our own leaders into wars that did not heal us, but only served the private agendas of despots among us.

We've made monumental mistakes and are paying the consequences. But we've also matured. We've pulled together, rebuilt and re-visioned our future. We've learned and forgotten and learned again. And we will continue in that direction forward because that's just what we do.
The attacks on 9/11 were not about religion. They were about power. A power-hungry minority have hijacked a religion and turned it into a mass-hysteria for pure evil. It is not the first time in history this has been attempted, and if you remember your history, it failed. then as it will fail again.

Human beings can only be oppressed for so long. We will only go along with lies for so long. Eventually, the human need for truth triumphs. The founders of our country knew all people have an inalienable right to freedom. Freedom of choice. Freedom of thought. Freedom of belief. Freedom of expression.

America is the greatest experiment in diversity that human civilization has ever known. It demands tolerance on a mass scale. But it's that very diversity that, as Darwin said, is vital for a species to evolve and thrive. Even on our knees, we continue to invent, produce, and create more than any other country in the world.

We will take our grief from 9/11, embrace it and transform it into something meaningful. That's the American way. 
Evil, meet America—your nemesis.

*(Thing Called Love, Bonnie Raitt)

 ©2011 Stephanie Ericsson


  1. Anonymous9/10/2011

    As usual your lucidity makes me look again at things that I though I knew
    Evil is in fact a lie. Can you see the connection between your lies piece & this concept? The theologians will tell us that G-d is ultimate truth and lies deny Truth thus denying G-d.
    Love, Life, Beauty, Faith, Hope, & Charity all these things are true in that they reflect the Ultimate Truth. Hatred, Death, Uglyness, Indifference, Despair, & Selfishness these opposites are the tools that the enemy uses to destroy. They reflect his evil in procaliming himself to be like unto G-d.
    I think we need to be warriors and raise the Standard of the Archangel Michael who's name means "Who is Like G-d" My life has been a process of learning to raise this standard as a beacon of defiance to those who would make "things" of others. Sometimes I even approach that ideal. I've watched you struggle to the same calling & am proud to call you friend

  2. steph ericsson9/14/2011

    Ahhhh...Anonymous! you have named my nemesis in my on-going exploration of lies! When I wrote 'The Ways We Lie' I originally included Evil as a lie. There are two reasons it did not make it into the piece as a category- 1. the topic was MAMMOTH and the essay could only be so long, 2. I found that writing about evil was like wrestling with a tar baby, where I constantly found myself bound and gagged by confusion. At that time and point in my life, I had to abandon it or be swallowed by it.

    The other point you made that has been part of my study of lies is 'those who would make "things" of others'. Susan Griffin's book, Pornography and Silence: Culture's Revenge Against Nature expands the definition of pornography beyond its usual sexual association to anything that objectified human beings.

    Defiance is a blessed thing. Thank you for your comment. Wish I knew who you are! ~ steph