I grapple with myself on my principles constantly. I'm not too afraid of being wrong to admit when I am. I try to stay one step ahead of Prester Bane's indignation. Every day, I try to look at one section of my beliefs and either reaffirm it or consider a change. For example, when I was in high school, I favored Palestine over Israel. I didn't think the Palestinians got justice after World War II, and disputed Israel's sole claim to the area. This got me in a lot of trouble, and in too many arguments to list. I was called a Nazi in open class, and worse behind my back, I'm sure. My position's base was the same base David Crockett used against Andrew Jackson on Indian removal: it's just not right to rob someone of his home to favor a relative or a countryman. I generally proposed a similar response to those who argued with me: "You can go to hell. I can go to Texas."
However, I think the Palestinians received a good offer over Hebron in 1997 with a satisfactory deal in the Oslo II agreement, and believed there should be an end to the contest. I was right about the offer, but wrong about the Palestinians' dedication at the bargaining table. Come 2000, and the offer given by Israel then, I was firmly in the belief that Palestine could settle without bloodshed. It's ok in my mind to take matters to arms at that stage. No one should be able to rob a neighbor of the right to fight over his domicile. However, war offers the victors much better terms, be they Palestinian or Israeli, but it guarantees massive penalties for defeat. I think Israel's offers were more than fair, and that the Palestinians' failure to win in the Intifada puts the situation in that category. Come September 11 and the crowds dancing in the streets throughout the Islamic world with few exceptions, jubilantly celebrating our loss, my opinion changed to stay. Islam can go to hell. I can go to Texas.
I read the Koran, and I thought I began to understand what Islam is all about: submission to divine powers and orders in exchange for riches, respect, and righteousness in this world and the next. That's not how I see my role in creation. I try to turn the other cheek without compromising my integrity. I see my religion as a way to salvation despite my many severe flaws. I want to believe there's some peace, quiet, and justice in being who I am, despite my particular difficulties mentally. I don't want war; I want peace and an agreement to leave each other alone in each of our individual pursuits of happiness and salvation. I don't hate Muslims, Catholics, Lutherans, or Calvinists. I don't agree with any of them. To me, Peter is the rock: his church is the cornerstone to our faith, but not the whole house. I am content to be a fleck in the mortar.
Now I face a similar personal dilemma to the one I faced in High School. Someone I once loved called me a bigot over my view of worldwide Islam, and indicated that was a big reason why I'm lonely: nobody wants to be around me or my opinions. So now I grapple with a world that hates me the same as it hated me in High School. Now I'm not called a Nazi; I'm called an American Imperialist. It seems that no matter what direction I turn, all I see are people's backs as they walk away. The only approaching figures are Prester Bane and his Many-Armed Knight. I struggle with God; I struggle with man; and I grapple with myself.