I was watching a morning news program reporting on the first collision when, before my eyes, the second plane struck. I could think only one thing- Armageddon had finally arrived. But then I quickly reassessed that. It couldn't be, because there were other events supposed to occur before Armageddon- some sort of definitive proclamation of Peace and Security from world leaders followed by an attack against religion on the part of government, spearheaded by the UN. I know. Sounds ludicrous. But that's what I was taught as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. The end had been just around the corner for as long as I had existed. The JW leadership wasted no time organizing their response to the attacks of 9/11. A special campaign was designed to bring comfort to terrified people. We were instructed to share a scripture or two, be brief, show consideration for the mourning and shocked. We were to let them know that, very soon, God would intervene and bring an end to human suffering. Looking back, I see the irony of God's solution to terrorism and violence- Armageddon- being the greatest and most violent act of terrorism ever. It wouldn't mean thousands of lives lost, but billions. Not a few buildings destroyed, but society as I knew it.
As time passed, it was obvious that we were going to have to wait a little longer. Only those that served Jehovah for selfish reasons got impatient with the perpetual postponement of the end. We were constantly reminded of this. But my doubts, the same ones that surfaced in adolescence, never left me. My way of burying them was to increase my activity in the religion. I was sure that this would bring me greater peace and happiness. My doubts, after all, were simply a lack of faith. If I'd make greater sacrifices, I'd be rewarded with greater faith. It wasn't working. The more involved I got in the inner workings of the organization, the more disappointed I grew. I was told by more seasoned brothers to ignore the politics and clashes of personality and to remain focused on the big picture. I tried. There was always conjecturing about this or that current event and how it signaled just how close we were to the end. In true Orwellian fashion, this kind of talk was officially discouraged but unofficially promoted. Someone always had some insider information from some undisclosed source. In time, I couldn't keep up the cognitive dissonance. What I observed was a world full of people getting on with life after a tragic event. It occurred to me that I might wake up one day, in fifty years, still waiting for the end. That thought terrified me more than anything- to have wasted my life waiting for something that wasn't real.
I didn't leave my religion on 9/11. I didn't lose my faith in God on 9/11. I knew from reading the Bible that he had permitted human suffering and misery for thousands of years. What happened that day was just more of the same. But I did begin to lose my faith in what I had been indoctrinated to believe. Once a mind starts thinking for itself, dogmas begin to crumble and illusions begin to evaporate. Imaginary friends die. Then the work of rebuilding a life begins. Is it even worth it?
Will the fight for our sanity
Be the fight of our lives?
Now that we've lost all the reasons
That we thought that we had- Wayne Coyne
Yeah. It's worth it.