For those brave enough to face the terror, perhaps we can be still long enough to see its entire scope. While we revile terrorism for its animal cruelty and relegate terrorists to sub-human status, we have given ourselves the moral permission to place all our frustration, fear and anger onto a nondescript other. This momentary empowerment feels right. It feels strong. But the more we grip, the less we see and the more vulnerable we become. By closing our mind in a vice, we are actually more at risk. We are vulnerable not only to danger, but to being manipulated by those who broker in fear and hatred. We all love the underdog in movies. We identify with native struggles, and those oppressed by stronger cultures. This “Robin Hood” syndrome is a very real human impulse. The United States identifies as rebellious in it’s inception. But weren’t the patriots we now revere deemed terrorists to some? How was this new country viewed by the native people of this continent? How were its people viewed by slaves torn from their families, shipped and traded like cattle to support an illegal economy? And how are we now seen to young children growing up in the middle east with scant hope and little opportunity? The dispossessed are easily manipulated by those who profit from their anger, and frankly the first world is an all too easy target.
But, the truth is, we are all victims of aggression. There is poverty and disempowerment in the first world, as well. There are victims of abuse in our safe American homes who can so easily turn toward hatred to find a way from their pain. Hate on hate on hate on hate. Our lineage of suffering might look senseless and cruel from the outside, but it feels so heroic within. This hatred keeps us spinning, and in our spinning, we no longer see. We only grasp the closest ally, and follow the strongest current. In this way, we are all the unwitting perpetrators of our destruction. And in the melee, we miss the reality, for it is a sad truth that in times of duress victims will kill victims. We are so caught in the bloodlust, we forget to see the obvious.
One obvious thought that haunts me is that terror costs money. A lot if money. Who has the money? I’m sure that few people dressed in a suicide belt come from great wealth and power. Where is the money that supports them? Along with pictures of the carnage, why are there no articles on who is financing terror? Why is there so little said about who is actually benefitting? Where is the money? If we stop the money, and prosecute the pipeline of arms and resources, might we not slow the progress of hatred if not unearth its cause? Might we be able to separate out the causes and conditions and begin to see how to untie the noose? Then those left in the trenches might be free to communicate and begin to understand what creates this hatred. Unfortunately, then we would have to listen to stories we’d rather not hear. We’d have to begin to see ourselves in the other. And, that is so very much more complicated than simple blame.
No, its easier to stay with the simple. Its easier to build walls and blow up markets than to try and see what someone else sees. And because of this blindness, we are at the mercy of the momentum. We are pulled like bulls from our nose. We are lead to slaughter again and again. So, while anger is easily justified, some of us simply must try something else. Some of us must take the mantle of kindness and peace in the face of war. Some of us must stand to open our hearts, if not to the aggressors, at least to the victims. So it will be said, never forget, and please don’t let them have died in vain. And monuments will be erected. And those slogans will be used to rally further war. This is what has happened, and what will happen again.
But, our memories of the victims can also be used to rally peace. Don’t let the victims die in vain. Let their suffering pose an opportunity for us to bond in compassion and caring. Let us forgive the easy answers for the bravery of being love in this time of hatred. This will change the world.
And, if you think that this is naive, and an avoidance of the responsibility of action, then please show me how aggression has helped. Maybe sometimes it has. More often its probably just unavoidable. But, in any case, it has added to the myth of the preeminence of might. And, justified or not, this has obscured our ability to see past vicious struggles for survival to greater human understanding. If we choose love, we do something different. We take a moment to pause and for a brief, but very important moment, we break the chain. And that break proves that the chain is not unbreakable. And that gap might open the window to an opportunity to develop a new way of working with our pain. Maybe then instead of erecting statues to commemorate war, we can build monuments to peace. Instead of using victims suffering adventitiously to strengthen ourselves, we can share in their pain and create greater compassion and understanding in the world.
I do not have that understanding now. I am angry as well. I do not know what is right, or who is right or what is best. But, I know that I want to make a statement for peace, because peace is what is needed. Simply that. There are warriors, and their are healers. The world has always been this way. Let us not forget the healing. Let us not forget understanding. Let us not forget to sit in meditation or prayer and in honor of those who suffer, face the terror with love.