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More On U.S. Attacks & Retaliation
Saturday, September 15, 2001

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NHNE: More On U.S. Attacks & Retaliation
Saturday, September 15, 2001
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The email inundation concerning the recent attacks on New York and Washington, and the crash in Pennsylvania, is continuing. Most of this email is wrestling with the possibility (near certainty at this point) that the U.S. will retaliate and what the consequences of this action may be.

Judging by the rhetoric coming out of Washington, the growing support for stamping out terrorism coming from the industrialized nations of the world, and the defiant response from the Taliban government in Afghanistan, we may be headed for global war.

If you want to receive the best, most well-rounded and informative news I am aware of concerning this situation, I encourage you to join our news list (see below for directions).

In the meantime, I will continue to send out sporadic updates like this one to NHNE's Main List which will highlight the most important news, perspectives, and resources I receive.

I urge us all to do what we can to keep a strong, clear connection with our spiritual center, and to act on whatever inspirations we receive. I also encourage us to pray for one another, and our world, especially those with whom we may disagree or tend to view with fear, anger, or hostility.

I personally do not know how the current drama will play out, nor do I know what course of action will produce the best, most loving outcome for all concerned. But I believe God does and if we do what we can to follow our innermost promptings, we will have done the best we can to insure humanity takes the steps it needs, whatever those steps may be, to reach a higher, more conscious and loving reality.

--- David Sunfellow



NHNE News List Posts
New York Time's List Of Resources
A Global War Between Islam & The West
Being Able To Lovingly Stand In Multiple Perspectives
We Are All One
To Create An Enemy
Dear Mr. President
Where The Violence Comes From
Comments From Other Like-Minded People



Here is a quick list of recent news stories posted to NHNE's News List. I've marked stories that I think are especially important with an "*".

Statistics Of Recent Attack:

* Airlines Bankruptcy Possible (9/14/2001)

Bogus Nostradamus Quatrain (9/14/2001)

* FRONTLINE Interview with Dr. Saad Al-Fagih (9/14/2001)

The Dalai Lama's Letter to the President (9/14/2001)

* The Nuclear Powerplant Nightmare (9/14/2001)

* Russian Warns CIA: Next Target A US Nuclear Facility (9/14/2001)

ScamBusters: Make Sure Your Help Goes Where You Intended (9/13/2001)

Palestinian Authority Threatens Camera Crews (9/13/2001)

Taliban Plead for Mercy (9/13/2001)



TO SUBSCRIBE, SEND A BLANK EMAIL MESSAGE TO: <nhnenews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com>



The New York Times on the Web has compiled a list of hotlines, victim information, closings and transportation updates. Visit this frequently updated page for useful resources on relief and rescue efforts:


If there is additional information that you would like to see included or if you know of other useful links, you can contact them at:



Saturday, September 15, 2001

[Editor's Note: Osama Bin Laden is a new voice in my world and what little I have heard of and from him has often been filtered through the minds, and belief systems, of others. Because of this, it is difficult to determine who he is really is and what his personal agendas and issues really are. I do, however, cringe when writers like Tamim Ansary (see below) declare Bin Laden to be another Hitler. He may be, I don't know, but I think it's important to make a sincere effort to hear what he, and others like him, have to say.

That said, Ansary's article is a remarkably clear, hard-hitting assessment of the issues surrounding a military attack on Bin Laden. Thanks to John Steiner <steiner_king@mail.earthlink.net> for sending it along. --DS]


Justine Toms, of New Dimensions Radio, writes:

I sent the following piece to Bob Fuller to see what he had to say about it. He was part of a peacekeeping mission that was first into Afghanistan after the Soviets pulled out. He was a fellow at WorldWatch in Washington D.C. and he was a former president of Oberlin College, a physicist by training, an educator, and is the author of "Breaking Ranks: In Pursuit of Individual Dignity." His website is: <http://www.breakingranks.net>

[Here is] what Bob Fuller said about this piece:

Justine -- Who is the brilliant analyst???? That piece is exactly right. I was cheering all the way through. I have been there twice and share that view with only one small exception. I think that in the end Pakistan (Musharraf) may decide to help us, let us through, whatever. They may even cough up Bin Laden so as to prevent some fighting. Impossible to tell. I am not sure. I just think that that is the one point made by the writer that is arguable. I would love to talk to this person. A tough-minded realist with real experience with tyranny.


Tamim Ansary Writes:

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I heard a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ron Owens, on KGO Talk Radio allowed that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage," and he asked, "What else can we do? What is your suggestion?" Minutes later I heard a TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done." And I thought about these issues especially hard because I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track of what's been going on over there. So I want to share a few thoughts with anyone who will listen.

I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I fervently wish to see those monsters punished. But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who captured Afghanistan in 1997 and have been holding the country in bondage ever since.

Bin Laden is a political criminal with a master plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would love for someone to eliminate the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country. I guarantee it.

Some say, if that's the case, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban themselves? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, damaged, and incapacitated. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan -- a country with no economy, no food. Millions of Afghans are widows of the approximately two million men killed during the war with the Soviets. And the Taliban has been executing these women for being women and has buried some of their opponents alive in mass graves. The soil of Afghanistan is littered with land mines and almost all the farms have been destroyed.

The Afghan people have tried to overthrow the Taliban. They haven't been able to. We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble with that scheme is, it's already been done. The Soviets took care of it. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? There is no infrastructure. Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that. New bombs would only land in the rubble of earlier bombs.

Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. (They have already, I hear.) Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would be making common cause with the Taliban -- by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time

So what else can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. I think that when people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" many of them are thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. They are thinking about overcoming moral qualms about killing innocent people. But it's the belly to die not kill that's actually on the table. Americans will die in a land war to get Bin Laden. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that, folks.

To get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. The invasion approach is a flirtation with global war between Islam and the West. And that is Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants and why he did this thing. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there.

At the moment, of course, "Islam" as such does not exist. There are Muslims and there are Muslim countries, but no such political entity as Islam. Bin Laden believes that if he can get a war started, he can constitute this entity and he'd be running it. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in Muslim lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong about winning, in the end the west would probably overcome -- whatever that would mean in such a war; but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden yes, but anyone else?

I don't have a solution. But I do believe that suffering and poverty are the soil in which terrorism grows. Bin Laden and his cohorts want to bait us into creating more such soil, so they and their kind can flourish. We can't let him do that. That's my humble opinion.


By Stephen Dinan

[Thanks to Tom Atlee <cii@igc.org>]

As I contemplate what is most needed to alleviate the suffering produced by yesterday's bombing, I imagine the various levels involved: the suffering of the wounded, the abrupt ending of life for those who died, the grieving of families and friends, the shock of citizens who live in a city just attacked, and, perhaps most importantly, the vast sea of people -- hundreds of millions or more -- whose hopes and dreams and hearts have been tarnished in some way by this event. The wound opened yesterday will likely leave a deep scar on our collective psyche. Long after the rubble has been cleared, the dead buried, and the perpetrators found, the psychological and spiritual damage will linger, distorting our dreams, polluting our prayers, and delaying the global camaraderie that has begun to blossom.

Healing this tear in the fabric that unites us is perhaps the most important task for those of us who are distant from the more direct victims of the attack. The challenge is how to do so.

I believe healing begins with how we treat our own reactions and the reactions of those around us. When we meet rage with our own judgment of that, we freeze the healing. When we meet denial with our resistance, we short-circuit the natural process of grief. When we steamroller over fear, sadness, or vulnerability, we abandon some part of our self. There are people who stand firmly in the belief that this was an evil attack upon freedom and we must have revenge. There are people who believe that the United States is finally getting its comeuppance for exploitation and inequality. There are some who see this as an opportunity to open our hearts to love and prayer. There are others who view this as cause to increase militarism. And, there are people, perhaps most, who cycle through a range of reactions, from grief to rage to compassion, trying to find some meaning in it all. Can we embrace each of them fully in their pain, in their outrage, in their fear, or in their desire for revenge?

By allowing ourselves to feel ALL of the reactions and ALL of the suffering, it gives space to let the wounding and loss work its way through our system. When we give others permission to do the same, we begin, in some small way, to heal the collective tear in the fabric that connects us. This allows us to begin to move closer to deep truth and deep love, a facet of which may be held in each camp, each feeling, each perspective, and each reaction. Rather than attaching to a single facet, we can begin to see the diamond as a whole, in all its paradoxical complexity.

Should we take strong action against the terrorists? Yes.

Should we open our hearts more fully to our "enemy"? Yes

Should we allow ourselves to hate and rage? Yes

Should we allow ourselves to feel the vulnerability underneath? Yes

Should we see this as a wake-up call to right imbalances that fueled the hatred of U.S. hegemony? Yes

The most complete truth is rarely found exclusively in one camp or another. It is usually found from being able to lovingly stand in multiple perspectives, be with many beliefs or feelings, and attune to the highest guidance possible about the truth in THIS moment. Reality is in flux. Life is complex. Truth must flow alongside all of evolution's meanders. Love must awaken afresh in each moment, always asking how best to serve.

One thing I want to distinguish here is the difference between full, fierce love, and the more milquetoast version that sometimes gets circulated as compassion. Fierce love is not afraid to hang out with outrage -- they can be allies. It is not afraid of taking a stand. It may even implement a hard punishment, but do so out of love for the individual punished and the society. The first precondition to embody fierce love, though, is clarity. While we are reacting to the most powerful emotions of the moment, we rarely feel clarity. Our bloodlust and desire for revenge might dictate our actions rather than a deep knowingness of what best serves us individually and collectively. Before making irrevocable actions, we are better served to first find that clarity and, especially, a sense of deep love. Then only will our actions really be in service to the greatest good.

Oddly, emotion-dictated action and action born of fierce love might look the same on the outside. For example, would someone in a space of clarity and fierce love have killed the hijackers in the planes en route to the World Trade Center if possible? Most likely, since that would have served the greatest good and prevented the greatest suffering. But I suspect that someone standing in that place of fierce love would have felt sadness in doing so as they resonated in with the personal and inherited suffering that drove the hijacker to his suicide mission. The action of killing may thus have fueled a greater sense of compassion and openness, perhaps even a desire to help alleviate the suffering of that hijacker's family or people.

This brings us back to the need to let the feelings flow. While bottled or unfelt, emotions poison our clarity. They cloud our vision. They sequester our love. Once we've really allowed them to pass through our system -- not just some of them, but all of them -- then we begin to feel into the fabric that unites us, the connective love that binds aggressor and victim and bystander in our innermost hearts. When we feel that connective cord, always, in each moment, then we begin to act with fierce love.

My prayer is that, collectively, we use the creation of this vast collective wound as an opportunity to become even clearer vessels for fierce, unconditional, unbounded love, a love that may even include "acts of war" done in a spirit of service. I pray that this becomes grist for the mill of collective advance towards true global community rather than an excuse for wholesale regression into nationalistic militarism.

But first, I urge each of us to feel it all fully and help those around us to do the same and thus ensure that in our small corner of the world, the collective wound begins to heal and that we begin to access the deeper wisdom and clarity at our core.


By Ron Kersey <kersey@airmail.net>
Thursday, September 13, 2001

[Editor's Note: The following comments were posted to the Pathwork Circle on Thursday, September 13. They were written by Ron Kersey <kersey@airmail.net> and are republished here, by permission. For more information about the Pathwork, you can visit their website at <http://www.pathwork.org>. You can also read an NHNE Special Report on the Pathwork at <http://www.nhne.com/specialreports/srpathwork.html>. --DS]

We are all One... That is something I am learning from my spiritual journey in this incarnation through being involved with the Pathwork. My wife and I decided to put up our flag this evening as so many are doing. She suggested that maybe we could put up the flag that was given to me at my father's military funeral. He was a cook in the army during WWII in Europe. Not a heroic job, but still serving his country. The flag had been just sitting on a shelf for the last five years. It seemed appropriate at this time to put up this particular flag. My Dad's generation is about to pass on and the journey that this generation has experienced in its incarnation has been very eventful. Seems like things were more "black and white" and decisions about war were easier to make. Or so I thought. As I unwrapped the flag there was a small book with it that I had either not noticed or did not pay attention to when I wrapped the flag. I did not recognize the emblem or writing on the cover. I opened this book to find a copy of the New Testament -- in the German language.

When I saw the TV news of the first building that was hit it did not register because I am used to seeing buildings blown up in movies. When I learned of the second building I was astonished and became aware of what was happening. When the Pentagon was hit I felt that familiar knot of fear. And, as the news came in the rest of the day I became angry. My emotions began to increase dramatically in opposition to my rationale. I thought about what I had been learning and experiencing in Pathwork and realized I didn't want to consider it -- I wanted justice -- even if it meant stepping on some toes. I was humiliated by what had happened and felt that war was declared. Part of me tried to be reasonable about this -- make sure before striking back -- part of me didn't care, and a very small part of me just waited, knowing that these feelings needed to be experienced; that this deep seated hatred of "the other" needed to be acknowledged. This "other" who will go to any length through deception, ruination and even self-destruction to get its way. Now I realize this "other" sounds familiar. I realize this "other" is me. Not all of me, but still a part of me that I am learning through Pathwork will have to be acknowledged and in all honesty brought into the light of God's spirit so that I can be transformed. Only as I am transformed can I exhibit and radiate God's love. I must do this myself before I can expect the world to change.

We are all One and we are all in very great pain -- a pain that has been self-inflicted. The cause of this pain is the "other" that keeps us separated. My prayer is that I (we) may acknowledge this "other" and begin the healing and transforming process that will bring us to our true home where we can experience being One.

God bless us all, Ron K.


From Sam Keen's, "Faces of the Enemy"

[Thanks to Halim Dunsky" <halim@bigmindmedia.com>.]

Start with an empty canvas
Sketch in broad outline the forms of
men, women, and children.

Dip into the unconscious well of your own
disowned darkness
with a wide brush and
stain the strangers with the sinister hue
of the shadow.

Trace onto the face of the enemy the greed,
hatred, carelessness you dare not claim as
your own.

Obscure the sweet individuality of each face.

Erase all hints of the myriad loves, hopes,
fears that play through the kaleidoscope of
every finite heart.

Twist the smile until it forms the downward
arc of cruelty.

Strip flesh from bone until only the
abstract skeleton of death remains.

Exaggerate each feature until man is
metamorphasized into beast, vermin, insect.

Fill in the background with malignant
figures from ancient nightmares -- devils,
demons, myrmidons of evil.

When your icon of the enemy is complete
you will be able to kill without guilt,
slaughter without shame.

The thing you destroy will have become
merely an enemy of God, an impediment
to the sacred dialectic of history.



President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC September 13, 2001

Dear Mr. President,

I am a former Marine Corps sergeant who served his country well and was honorably discharged in 1970. I have never written such a letter before and I pray that it will somehow get through the bureaucratic filters to reach you. Like so many Americans, I was appalled and shocked by the death and destruction we witnessed two days ago. I am now coming out of my shock and am very concerned about the grievous state in which our country and the world find themselves. We have suffered a horrible attack and far too many of us have suffered and died. I am greatly saddened and sickened by the carnage and suffering of the victims and their families. I know you too are suffering and I can feel your anger and frustration as well as your desire for active retaliation and I understand it well. It is a natural and justifiable reaction to such a heinous criminal act.

And yet I would counsel you to proceed carefully. I fear we are in a perilous situation and a mistake on our part could easily widen the already huge spiral of violence in which the world finds itself. Mr. President, you now have the great opportunity to prove to the world that the United States is more than just a great economic and military power to be feared. It is up to you to show all of the world that the United States is also a law abiding and civilized country which can be trusted to follow the laws of the world as well as let itself be guided by the wisdom of human understanding and compassion.

I urge you to use all legal means at your disposal to determine who perpetrated this horrible crime and to bring them to trial before the appropriate court. Let them indeed find the justice the world awaits and needs. But I beg you, let not one more innocent life -- be it American, Israeli, Palestinian or any other -- be lost because of this horrible crime. Too often our bombs and weapons have taken the lives of innocent victims. I believe the military euphemism is "collateral damage" but in reality it is manslaughter if not outright murder. What right can we claim that allows us to take more innocent lives? Is that not also a form of terrorism? Should we lower ourselves to the level of those who attacked the World Trade Center or should we stand tall and take the legal and moral high ground?

You have chosen to describe this as an act of evil. I fear using such inflammatory language will only worsen the situation. Such language will all too easily incite a lynch mob mentality, when what we need is the compassion which Jesus taught as well as the cool reason which will help us reach our true goals of global peace, prosperity and democracy for all people of the world. Lead us, Mr. President, with dignity and wisdom and do not pander to the primitive parts of our beings that are all too powerfully calling out at this moment. Show the world that you too are a leader with the greatness, strength and courage to seek true understanding and restorative justice, just as Nelson Mandela did in South Africa.

Rather than characterizing the attack as an act of evil, I see it as a terrible last act of desperation by people who believed they had no other way to make themselves heard than to resort to violence and mayhem. It is absolutely critical that we see not only their willingness to use horrible, illegal means, but that we also hear their desperation which makes them view such means as the highest form of heroism including the sacrifice of their very lives. As a former Marine, I know what it means to be willing to sacrifice one's life for a cause one truly believes in. While I see these people as horribly misguided, hate-filled and desperate, I do not believe they are cowardly or evil.

If we are to truly resolve the hatred and violence, we need to understand that in their eyes, they see themselves as a tiny, heroic David fighting against a huge, monstrous Goliath who seeks to kill them and their way of life. We certainly need not agree with their views, but we must understand them if we ever hope to achieve a lasting peace and not a world that is locked down and bereft of all the civil rights and freedoms we cherish so highly.

Months ago we saw magazine pictures of a young Palestinian child being cradled for hours in the arms of his father. Innocently caught in a gun battle the child died from bullet wounds and the father could not move to save him. Can you begin to imagine the anguish, pain and sense of injustice this father must have felt? As a father yourself, how would you have felt in such a situation as the life oozed out of your child and you were pinned down and absolutely helpless? It is such intensely unbearable images and feelings that drive people to such desperate measures as we witnessed on Wednesday in New York and Washington.

In this moment of deep crisis, is also a moment of immense opportunity. I urge you to take this opportunity to move our world away from violence and suffering and towards peace, freedom and abundance for all. Let these voices of desperation be heard and let the perpetrators have their day in court. Show them that we truly do believe in law and justice for all. Let us not make the mistake we did recently at Durban, but rather let us bring all voices to the table, even if they are screaming and telling the stories we would like not to hear. We are truly a superpower and we are too used to talking and expecting others to listen. Show the world that we are also strong enough to learn to listen. I know you are a Christian and I pray that you will indeed do what Jesus Christ counseled and not rashly lash out in violence. May God give you the wisdom to find the great opportunity for peace that lies in this horrible tragedy. I hope that later in this century historians will look back and applaud your greatness of spirit and cool sense of reason that moved our globalizing world closer to justice and democracy for all.

Greg Nees


By Rabbi Michael Lerner <RabbiLerner@tikkun.org>
Editor, TIKKUN Magazine

[Thanks to John Steiner <steiner_king@mail.earthlink.net>.]

There is never any justification for acts of terror against innocent civilians -- it is the quintessential act of dehumanization and not recognizing the sanctity of others, and a visible symbol of a world increasingly irrational and out of control.

It's understandable why many of us, after grieving and consoling the mourners, will feel anger -- and while some demagogues in Congress have already sought to manipulate that feeling into a growing militarism (more spies, legalize assassinations of foreign leaders, increase the defense budget at the expense of domestic programs), the more "responsible" leaders are seeking to narrow America's response to targeted attacks on countries that allegedly harbor the terrorists.

The perpetrators deserve to be punished, and I personally would be happy if all the people involved in this act were to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives. Let's not be naive: these are evil people who planned this and perpetrated it, just as are many who are engaged in acts of terror against Israel. They should not be excused or forgiven for their acts. Whatever cause they claim to espouse is only dirtied and discredited by these disgusting acts of violence.

Yet in some ways this narrow focus on the perpetrators allows us to avoid dealing with the underlying issues. When violence becomes so prevalent throughout the planet, it's too easy to simply talk of "deranged minds." We need to ask ourselves, "What is it in the way that we are living, organizing our societies, and treating each other that makes violence seem plausible to so many people?"

We in the spiritual world will see this as a growing global incapacity to recognize the spirit of God in each other -- what we call the sanctity of each human being. But even if you reject religious language, you can see that the willingness of people to hurt each other to advance their own interests has become a global problem, and its only the dramatic level of this particular attack which distinguishes it from the violence and insensitivity to each other that is part of our daily lives.

We may tell ourselves that the current violence has "nothing to do" with the way that we've learned to close our ears when told that one out of every three people on this planet does not have enough food, and that one billion are literally starving. We may reassure ourselves that the hoarding of the world's resources by the richest society in world history, and our frantic attempts to accelerate globalization with its attendant inequalities of wealth, has nothing to do with the resentment that others feel toward us. We may tell ourselves that the suffering of refugees and the oppressed have nothing to do with us -- that that's a different story that is going on somewhere else. But we live in one world, increasingly interconnected with everyone, and the forces that lead people to feel outrage, anger and desperation eventually impact on our own daily lives.

The same inability to feel the pain of others is the pathology that shapes the minds of these terrorists. Raise children in circumstances where no one is there to take care of them, or where they must live by begging or selling their bodies in prostitution, put them in refugee camps and tell them that that they have "no right of return" to their homes, treat them as though they are less valuable and deserving of respect because they are part of some despised national or ethnic group, surround them with a media that extols the rich and makes everyone who is not economically successful and physically trim and conventionally "beautiful" feel bad about themselves, offer them jobs whose sole goal is to enrich the "bottom line" of someone else, and teach them that "looking out for number one" is the only thing anyone "really" cares about and that anyone who believes in love and social justice are merely naive idealists who are destined to always remain powerless, and you will produce a world-wide population of people feeling depressed, angry, unable to care about others, and in various ways dysfunctional.

I see this in Israel, where Israelis have taken to dismissing the entire Palestinian people as "terrorists" but never ask themselves: "What have we done to make this seem to Palestinians to be a reasonable path of action today." Of course there were always some hateful people and some religious fundamentalists who want to act in hurtful ways against Israel, no matter what the circumstances. Yet, in the situation of 1993-96 when Israel under Yitzhak Rabin was pursuing a path of negotiations and peace, the fundamentalists had little following and there were few acts of violence. On the other hand, when Israel failed to withdraw from the West Bank, and instead expanded the number of its settlers, the fundamentalists and haters had a far easier time convincing many decent Palestinians that there might be no other alternative.

Similarly, if the U.S. turns its back on global agreements to preserve the environment, unilaterally cancels its treaties to not build a missile defense, accelerates the processes by which a global economy has made some people in the third world richer but many poorer, shows that it cares nothing for the fate of refugees who have been homeless for decades, and otherwise turns its back on ethical norms, it becomes far easier for the haters and the fundamentalists to recruit people who are willing to kill themselves in strikes against what they perceive to be an evil American empire represented by the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

Most Americans will feel puzzled by any reference to this "larger picture." It seems baffling to imagine that somehow we are part of a world system which is slowly destroying the life support system of the planet, and quickly transferring the wealth of the world into our own pockets.

We don't feel personally responsible when an American corporation runs a sweat shop in the Philippines or crushes efforts of workers to organize in Singapore. We don't see ourselves implicated when the U.S. refuses to consider the plight of Palestinian refugees or uses the excuse of fighting drugs to support repression in Colombia or other parts of Central America. We don't even see the symbolism when terrorists attack America's military center and our trade center -- we talk of them as buildings, though others see them as centers of the forces that are causing the world so much pain.

We have narrowed our own attention to "getting through" or "doing well" in our own personal lives, and who has time to focus on all the rest of this? Most of us are leading perfectly reasonable lives within the options that we have available to us -- so why should others be angry at us, much less strike out against us? And the truth is, our anger is also understandable: the striking out by others in acts of terror against us is just as irrational as the world-system that it seeks to confront. Yet our acts of counter-terror will also be counter-productive. We should have learned from the current phase of the Israel-Palestinian struggle, responding to terror with more violence, rather than asking ourselves what we could do to change the conditions that generated it in the first place, will only ensure more violence against us in the future.

Luckily, most people don't act out in violent ways -- they tend to act out more against themselves, drowning themselves in alcohol or drugs or personal despair. Others turn toward fundamentalist religions or ultra-nationalist extremism. Still others find themselves acting out against people that they love, acting angry or hurtful toward children or relationship partners.

This is a world out of touch with itself, filled with people who have forgotten how to recognize and respond to the sacred in each other because we are so used to looking at others from the standpoint of what they can do for us, how we can use them toward our own ends. The alternatives are stark: either start caring about the fate of everyone on this planet or be prepared for a slippery slope toward violence that will eventually dominate our daily lives.

Let's not be naïve about the perpetrators of this terror. Many are evil people, as are some of the fundamentalists and ultra-nationalists who demean and are willing to destroy others. But these evil people are often marginalized when societal dynamics are moving toward peace and hope (e.g. in Israel while Yitzhak Rabin was Prime Minister) and they become much more influential and able to recruit people to give their lives to their cause when ordinary and otherwise decent people despair of peace and justice (as when Israel from 1996 to 2000 dramatically increased the number of settlers).

So here is what would marginalize those who hate the United States. Imagine if the Ben Ladins of the world had to recruit people against America at a time when:

1. America was using its economic resources to end world hunger and redistribute the wealth of the planet so that everyone had enough.

2. America was the leading voice championing an ethos of generosity and caring for others -- leading the world in ecological responsibility, social justice, open-hearted treatment of minorities, and rewarding people and corporations for social responsibility.

3. America was restructuring its own internal life so that all social practices and institutions were being judged "productive or efficient or rational" not only because they maximized profit, but also to the extent that they maximized love and caring, ethical/spiritual/ecological sensitivity, and an approach to the universe based on awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation (what I call an Emancipatory Spirituality).

One might think it's naive and impossible to move America in that direction. Well, here are two reasons why, even if it's a long shot, it's an approach that deserves support:

a. It's even more naïve to imagine that bombings, missile defense systems, more spies or baggage searches can stop people willing to lose their lives to wreak havoc and capable of airplane hijacking, chemical assaults (like anthrax), etc.

b. The response of people to the World Trade Building collapse was an outpouring of loving energy and generosity, sometimes even risking their own lives, and showing the capacity and desire we all have to care about each other. If we could legitimate people allowing that part of themselves to come out, without having to wait for a disaster, we could empower a part of every human being which our social order marginalizes. Americans have a deep goodness -- and that needs to be affirmed.

We should pray for the victims and the families of those who have been hurt or murdered in these crazy acts. We should also pray that America does not return to "business as usual," but rather turns to a period of reflection, coming back into touch with our common humanity, asking ourselves how our institutions can best embody our highest values. We may need a global day of atonement and repentance dedicated to finding a way to turn the direction of our society at every level, a return to the notion that every human life is sacred, that "the bottom line" should be the creation of a world of love and caring, and that the best way to prevent these kinds of acts is not to turn ourselves into a police state, but turn ourselves into a society in which social justice, love, and compassion are so prevalent that violence becomes only a distant memory.



Bob Stilger, of New Stories <http://www.newstories.org>, has posted many of the letters he has received concerning the recent attacks at this address:




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