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Sixth Year Anniversary of 9-11

For 6 years now, we've heard reference to a "post 9-11 world," and how different it is from what we had before.
     It's time we ask ourselves what that means. One successful attack by a group of fanatics, brutal though it was, is said to have changed everything. It has stolen our security. It has changed our vision of the world, challenged our rights and freedom, and made us question who we are.
     It is good to question things, even who we are. It is good to reject false security. It is good that our vision of the world is subject to change, for it needed changing.
     But to sacrifice our rights? To defend freedom by curtailing it? To go to the wrong war blindly in a fit of rage? To send our finest warriors into lengthy and often senseless battles, while the rest of us go shopping, worry about interest rates and obsess about the rehabilitation of celebrities?
     I think that the post 9-11 world that politicians talk about from their men's room stalls and call girl trysts and obscene lobbyist fund-raisers is nothing short of madness.
     Fear has accentuated the insanity that only played with us before as we set our strong virtues aside and languished with envy of the rich and famous.
     We forgot that freedom means more than the moment's pleasure, more than taking advantage of others and bullying those who are weak. It means defending human rights at every turn, denying leaders more power than they deserve, challenging the status quo that so easily lures us to complacency and, yes, even cowardice—no other word describes the fear and willful blindness that makes us forget who we are.
     No amount of political spin or party loyalty or corporate greed is worth a single drop of blood of our fine warriors overseas. To say that they fight for our freedom is a lie. They fight to defend the veneer of freedom, because madness has let freedom's depth slip through our fingers.
     To be worthy of the sacrifice of our brave warriors, we must confront a very different challenge right here in our homes and on our jobs and in the realm of politics. We have to assert the true merit of freedom, which is to elevate and protect what is meaningfully human in the world, not trade it away for the latest stock option or narcotic or preacher's charisma.
     The warrior spirit is the only and truest protection that freedom has. It says yes to what is right, and no to what is wrong-not out of weakness or fear, but from strength. We forget who we are when we live in fear and madness. We see images of masked fanatics marching and shooting in the desert, and think them capable of swimming across the ocean and destroying 300 million of us. We look at their strange warrior ferocity, their hatred and values, so different from our own, and see them as a threat to our entire way of life. We forget our own warrior inheritance, how we crushed far greater threats than this, how we fought for and protected freedom over and over again, sometimes for people who aren't ready for it.
     We are asked to support our troops. What exactly does that mean? Yellow ribbons? Bumper stickers? Waving flags from the safety of our porches? Sending armor and ammunition? Honoring the dead by filling more graves? These responses are scandalously superficial. We only support our troops by reviving the warrior spirit in us all, making us worthy of their sacrifice. We honor them by generating the moral energy that makes freedom worth fighting for.
    
There is a big difference between being ready to die for what we believe, and sending someone else to die for our convenience. We are failing to live up to who we always were. We see this in the way we treat the world of nature, in the frivolous complaints generated by our privileges and comfort, in the disappointing heroes we raise, and a media that depends on our not thinking for ourselves.
    
The post 9-11 world, the madness we have embrace because of it, for fear and hidden profit, is a shameful response that negates everything that is good in us—even hope.
    
Chivalry-Now is more than a feel-good moral code derived from medieval romance. It is a call to resurrect the strength and power and goodness of our Western heritage, lulled to sleep by economic success and uninspired leadership. Chivalry-Now calls us to take a harsh stance against fear and fanaticism and falsehood. Sanity has to be reclaimed before it is too late. Al Qaeda cannot win by force of arms or moral persuasion. They might bruise our heel, but they can never, ever, defeat us. They are too few, too puny, and too misguided. Their power lies in duping weak-minded followers into believing that God will reward them for their sins. They hope to win by shaking a house of cards and finding that it has no foundation. The real danger to our ideals comes not from them but from us.
    
If we fight for sanity, virtue and freedom, it is not enough to say that we are not as bad as they are. We must first cleanse our own sanity, uphold true virtue even when it costs us dearly, and live in the strength and vitality of freedom. Only then are we worthy of the legacy of Western culture. Only then is our legacy not only compelling but irresistibly real.
    
To our leaders I say, don't speak to me of patriotism from your ivory towers, not until you reinstate the full meaning of what we stand for, other than a clip of ground and moralistic slogans. Until then, let us fight for what we believe as individuals at every opportunity, every day.
    
We have heard the words of Bin Laden. He is kind enough to periodically share them with us. If those are the words his followers believe and die for, then they deserve our pity. What we hold in our hands, and too often disregard, is much more beautiful, weighty and humane than they can ever dream of. And for that reason, we will prevail.

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