More On U.S. Attacks & Retaliation
Saturday, September 15, 2001
& Consumer Protection
for Spiritual Seekers"
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
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
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
NHNE NEWS LIST POSTS
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 REVIEW CURRENT POSTS TO NHNE'S NEWS LIST:
TO SUBSCRIBE, SEND A BLANK EMAIL MESSAGE TO: <email@example.com>
NEW YORK TIME'S LIST OF RESOURCES
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:
A GLOBAL WAR BETWEEN ISLAM & THE WEST
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> for sending it
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:
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
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.
BEING ABLE TO LOVINGLY STAND IN MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES
By Stephen Dinan
[Thanks to Tom Atlee <email@example.com>]
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
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.
WE ARE ALL ONE
By Ron Kersey <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 <email@example.com>
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>.
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
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.
TO CREATE AN ENEMY
From Sam Keen's, "Faces of the Enemy"
[Thanks to Halim Dunsky" <firstname.lastname@example.org>.]
Start with an empty canvas
Sketch in broad outline the forms of
men, women, and children.
Dip into the unconscious well of your own
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
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.
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT
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
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
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
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.
A WORLD OUT OF TOUCH WITH ITSELF:
WHERE THE VIOLENCE COMES FROM
By Rabbi Michael Lerner <RabbiLerner@tikkun.org>
Editor, TIKKUN Magazine
[Thanks to John Steiner <email@example.com>.]
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.
COMMENTS FROM OTHER LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
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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