He could hear that musket ball droning about the room, lethally bisecting it again and again like a billiard ball going from one cushion to another. He remained crouching there for a long time before he was able to convince himself that it was quite impossible, physically speaking, scientifically speaking, for a musket ball to go on and on ricocheting like that in a rectangular room; it could only be his imagination. So he forced himself to stand up again and suffered no ill-effects; a small but significant triumph for the scientific way of looking at things.
It was sometimes feebly argued, as the political and military war against this enemy ran into difficulties, that it was 'a war without end.' I never saw the point of this plaintive objection. The war against superstition and the totalitarian mentality is an endless war. In protean forms, it is fought and refought in every country and every generation. In bin Ladenism we confront again the awful combination of the highly authoritarian personality with the chaotically nihilist and anarchic one. Temporary victories can be registered against this, but not permanent ones. As Bertold Brecht's character says over the corpse of the terrible Arturo Ui, the bitch that bore him is always in heat. But it is in this struggle that we develop the muscles and sinews that enable us to defend civilization, and the moral courage to name it as something worth fighting for.
Most people who offer their help do it to make themselves feel better, not us. To be honest, I don't blame them. It's superstition: If you give assistance to the family in need... if you throw salt over your shoulder... if you don't step on the cracks, then maybe you'll be immune. Maybe you'll be able to convince yourself that this could never happen to you.