It’s almost cliche now- where were you on 9/11? But, every year since, today that’s what I think about. Where were we? I, and my crew, were installing the finishes on a new home in Pepper Pike. The work we were doing that day was high craftsmanship- marble floor installation and trim carpentry. I bring that up because, in the years since, the juxtaposition between a culture of craftsmanship and customer service and a culture of primitive mass destruction and murder seems to define our new century. A Western culture that has developed a sense of tolerance, playfulness, scholarship and achievement is being attacked by a culture that values might and a single book alone. The irony is that our culture of technology and thought couldn’t have developed without Islam. Rolling the clock back about a thousand years, it was the Christian west that relied solely on one book and burned and tortured non-believers. Then, it was Islam that kept the fires of Greek and Roman scholarship burning, to be re-discovered by the West in the Renaissance. Islamic scholars worked on mathematics and astronomy, explored the reach of medicine, valued libraries and art, and built on the architectural achievements of the Greeks and Romans, extending their styles and creating their own. Craftsmanship, then, was something that, at that time, Islam highly prized. It could be no other way for them to have built what they did. Now, a thousand years later, the roles are reversed. Islam has fallen under the spell of a Dark Age puritanical scholarless side, while the West has created a technologically based wonderland that has really no limits. As the brutes running Isis murder masses of people and destroy architectural and cultural masterpieces that have survived every other flavor of religion since they were built, I can only think that with the swings we’ve seen already in history that it’s possible that this too shall pass, and that the other side of Islam may one day rise up out of what we see today, so that Muslims can claim back their craftsman-like heritage. Until then, the fight between the West and this brutish malevolent and maximally violent horde will continue. More innocent people will be murdered, and more of our cultural edifices will be attacked. How sad that the human psyche can house both the lofty, striving, curious scholar and that dark murderous side that destroys everything that the latter would create. Today is the day, every year, that I think about these things, remembering the destruction of the Twin Towers and the murder of our people, remembering the people we’ve lost defending our country, and hope that, someday, the dark, brutish, destructive side of our humanity will be less fixed on destroying what our craftsmanship scholarly side may build.
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