Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why I Wrote My Novel

Ten years ago today I was in Manchester, New Hampshire, not far from the airport, staring at the empty, silent sky. No clouds, no airplanes. I felt numb.

I wanted so badly to help. I had no money to give. I didn’t get the chance to go to New York and help search the rubble for victims. I tried to donate blood, but they already had so many donors they turned me away, even though I have the rare O- type. It felt good to know so many people were donating, but I still wanted to help.
I attended a public meeting to figure out how Christians, Muslims and others could work together to help the survivors and the victims’ families, help each other recover, and help prevent future attacks. Again, I was disappointed. I met some nice people and learned some things, but that was all. No one else seemed interested in doing anything practical to help: it seemed they thought the fact that we gathered and talked about the survivors somehow helped them.

And then I found it. Stories started popping up in the news about hate crimes against Muslims, and even against non-Muslims who had brown skin or dressed in non-Western clothing. I realized that people don’t do horrible acts of violence all at once. They usually talk about their anger and get encouragement from others until it grows and hardens into an insane hatred. Then they act.
So I started talking to people. Whenever I found myself in a conversation with someone who seemed bitter and hateful, I’d try to be an influence of compassion, moderation and reason.
I failed. Nobody wanted to listen: they were right and I was wrong. I needed facts. I had to be the expert, to know more than they did. Not that I would rub it in their faces; my assertions just needed to be difficult to dismiss.

I did a lot of research, learned a lot and had fun learning it. I kept talking with bitter and hateful people, and I think I was able to do some good. I certainly hope so.

Somewhere in that research and those conversations, a book started to grow in my head. It would be about the insane kind of religious fervor that drives people to unthinkable atrocities, and about the redeeming, strengthening power of true faith.

The book is entitled Resist the Devil. Please download a copy, read it and share it with others. Together, we can help.