On the anniversary of the attack on the twin towers, the threat by a little-known American pastor to burn copies of The Koran - and the reaction to it - provide a perfect example of how, in my opinion, the two major evils of our time are influencing the way we live.
The evils of which I speak, BTW, are religion and the media.
Like many of my generation, I was christened, attended Sunday school, and had been confirmed before I really had much time to consider what my religion was all about - let alone any others. In the meantime, over many years and for a variety of reasons, I have grown to believe that, whilst it may well serve a purpose for individuals on a personal level, on a communal level, religion seems to do more harm than good.
I'm not an historian, but I would venture to suggest that there have been (and still are) more wars fought in the name of one religion or another than are not. Furthermore, the hatred with which these wars are fought is often far more intense than in conflicts where, for example, nationalistic or civil differences are at issue - and, it is for these reasons that I feel entitled to have used the term 'evil'.
Turning, now, to the second 'evil'.
In much the same way as I've experienced a growing disenchantment with religion, the same could be said of the media - and, in particular, the press. There was a time when the word 'integrity' meant something in journalism. Nowadays, it would be easy to suppose that many journalists don't even know what it means - let alone how to exercise it.
Putting aside the way 'celebrities' and sports men and women are treated, if the standards which exist today had been applied over the past century, it's quite possible that many outstanding world leaders would have been hounded out of office before they even reached the dispatch box. Imagine, for example, what the gutter press would have made of Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, John Kennedy, or Francois Mitterrand.
It seems that, in modern journalism, reporters are a thing of the past. Instead of reporting what happened, some sections of the press appear more interested in 'making' the news. How often, recently, do we read of newspaper scams - when unsuspecting individuals are tricked into illegal acts by 'undercover' reporters - and, to continue the theme, this behaviour, in my opinion, is also 'evil'.
Paradixically, recent events in Florida have brought the two 'evils' together in a quite frightening manner. Evidently, the paraniod pastor only had a congregation of about fifty. So, although it's hard to deny that what he was proposing bordered on 'evil', if it had been contained within it's own environment, hardly anyone would have know about it and that would have been the end of it - that is until the media got hold of the story and turned it into an international emergency.
Make no mistake about it; although the politically-naive pastor started the ball rolling, there is absolutely NO WAY it would have reached the proportions it eventually has done without an army of journalists, TV reporters and cameramen from all corners of the earth setting-up camp outside the little church. Furthermore, although he must accept some degree of blame should any western servicemen or women suffer or die as a result of this fiasco, by far and away the most guilty party in the whole affair is the media. As a consequence, I - for one, wouldn't be in the least bit concerned if they all rotted in hell for their sins.