Reflections on Paris: Fundamentalism and the End of Reason


On September 11, 2001, they said that the world as we know it had changed. On November 13, 2015, that statement was proven once again.

I don’t know how to react to this. I want to scream and faint. I want to run up the wall and smash through the ceiling. I want to lie very, very still.

I could say so much about the brainwashing of humanity, about the insanity of religion – of how man is too flawed to deserve God – of how we have solidified a self-fulfilling apocalyptic story that was derived from and will be seen through by misguided fundamentalist, monotheistic faiths; for when there is ONE god, then MY god must be better than YOUR god… and from such judgment hatred and violence run rampant. Whatever happened to a universal God that would never, ever agree with any of this? Whatever happened to reason and compassion and love? Why has no one stopped to consider that the Abrahamic faiths are literally derived from the same sands of the same desert and that the Allah/Yahweh/God that each worship is one and the same?

The God I imagine is not a god that would pick and choose amongst His (or Her) creation and condemn some to derision and heresy and death while others walk freely and righteously. We are all free and we are all deserving of life, and we need to come together, more than ever, right now, before this divisiveness threatens to hit a critical mass that will wipe us out forever.

Human beings have an embarrassingly short memory. My father last night said “We have forgotten World War II. We are going to perpetuate the cycle of horror again.”

It is only a matter of time before “Never Forget” becomes “Cannot Remember.”

The Israelites wandered for forty years in the desert, and that was enough time for them to collectively forget their God and begin worshiping a golden calf. And this is just a popular example: consider the genocides, wars, famines, murders, atrocities that have been committed in the name of God or water or land or power, and how quickly we replace old memories with new ones, doomed to repeat our sordid histories to time immemorial.

By far what scares me the most is the complete rejection of logic, learning, questioning, and curiosity that has been exponentially growing over the last hundred years.  Somehow, the era that has birthed the most brilliant advances in medicine, science, technology, and the humanities has also somehow seen a return to extremist religion and its requisite rejection of careful thought, of intellectual debate and philosophy, of consideration for other perspectives and respect for new ideas.  Islam was once the most tolerant monotheistic faith in the world; while Western Europe plodded along through the illiteracy of the Dark Ages, Baghdad was a renowned centers of learning, and scholars came from far and wide to study, write, and lay down the foundations of modern science.  So what happened between then and now to produce the completely antithetical-to-learning offshoot of this religion? The Qur’an hasn’t changed; Islam at its core hasn’t changed, but what has changed is that humanity has walked so far from reason and so deeply into fear that any lunatic waving scripture can lay claim to a faith and a God and destroy its message utterly. Fundamentalism is the opposite of intelligence–it has no room for irony, it does not understand sarcasm or humor or playfulness; it has no respect for the feminine, for nature, for art, for beauty, for sexuality, for life, for all of the things that make us beautiful and different from each other and human. What has happened to us where we have allowed Fear with a capital F to assert a stronghold on the collective world psyche and threaten to send us over the precipice into another global war?

Unless. Unless we can recognize that this was an act of extremism derived from a faith that is otherwise trying just as hard as any other to do good in the world. Unless we can see that every human has an equal predisposition towards sheep mentality and brainwashing as he or she does towards careful and qualified thought and curiosity, and that it is our responsibility to ensure that every person born is given a chance to think about the world before being swept away into blind dogma. Unless we can use this terrible tragedy that had me crying all night as a way to galvanize a true and organized push towards coming together as a global community, everyone pulling the same way and promising to wipe out fundamentalism (which by the way exists in all three of these faiths and though less publicly dramatic is just as personally damaging) in all its forms, and to ensure that each and every person can practice his or her religion, or practice no religion at all, without fear of judgement.

Would that we could create a world in which every faith allowed the others to exist, and truly understood that every one of these religions is simply another side of the same polyhedron.  And that beyond people’s respective faiths that we all worry about the same things: family, friends, community, safety, health, nourishment, happiness. That we are a human family. And lest we not forget the countless other attacks, in Kenya, Tunisia, Beirut, and of course the continuing and seemingly endless devastation in Syria that threatens to boil over into a level of violence that I cannot even imagine. It is telling that an attack on a Western country was the one which got all the media attention necessary for a collective U.S. reaction. However, rather than lambast people who posted about Paris but not other attacks, let’s please use this as a rallying cry for coming together and not yet another reason for divisiveness (the extreme version of which is what causes such violence in the first place).  People die at the hands of terrorists every. single. day in the Middle East. Terrorism is not a Middle Eastern problem; it is a global problem and it will require global cooperation to stamp out.

I have run out of thoughts. But my God (however and whatever you call Him or Her), this madness has to end. J’taime, Paris.

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