Friday, September 11, 2009

Terrorism and Love

I wrote the essay below on the day of the September 11th bombings as part of a column I wrote for on agoraphobia. I was living in Arizona at the time. I think I posted it here last year, but I still believe what I said that day, so I'm going to post it again.

September 11, 2001

Well, I had a column set to post tomorrow, but it seems wrong to let the day of these terrible bombings go unacknowledged, to not speak a word of grief for all the innocent dead, people like you and me who just got up this morning, put on their clothes, drank their coffee and headed off to work in the beautiful sunshine of an early Fall day. I feel such grief not only for the dead, but for those who were there and survived, for all of us who watch this horror broadcast around the world and will live forever with it seared into our eyeballs and our hearts. I feel such grief for the firefighters, policemen, doctors, and just regular folks who courageously put themselves into the path of danger to save those who can be saved, and who in the days and weeks to come will put themselves through the horror of rescuing the dead. I feel grief for all of us not just in the United States, but all over the world, whose sense of decency and innocence has been dealt a wicked and cruel blow. I pray for us all, the living and the dead. I believe that all people are connected, that on some level the good and evil each of us does touches everyone. So many people from all over the world have written to me in pain and love today, that I know more than ever the truth of that belief. We really are one world, one people. Maybe this act and these dead will, in giving their lives, remind us of that.

But I want to say that I also feel grief for the people whose souls are so wounded and dead that they can deceive themselves into thinking that mass murder is noble or honorable. When I pray healing for/from this vile, cowardly, mass murder of innocents, I will pray also for those who caused all this pain. In some ways, I think they above and beyond all of us, need our prayers.

In Christian churches all over the world, people repeat the Lord's Prayer every week: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." The words are repeated with so little thought. Now is the time to think about them. Now is the time to meet hate with love, violence with peace. Otherwise hate and violence win. The innocent don't need our love nearly as much as the lost souls of this world do. It is those who are lost in darkness who truly need our prayer and when we won't or don't or can't pray for them a little of their darkness casts it's shadow into our light. Maybe this sounds crazy. Maybe it sounds like airy-fairy nonsense. I don't mean we shouldn't be angry. How could we not be enraged by such incomprehensible evil? We are human. The pain of such an act is excruciating. I lived in New York until a year ago. Many of my closest friends live there. I don't know yet if any of them were killed in this horrible thing that was done. But I know that if I become consumed with hate, then it all becomes even worse.

Jesus said that, "Even as ye do it unto the least [and worst] of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." I believe that includes hate and love, that it includes assassins as well as innocents.

I do a kind of healing called Reiki. Reiki practitioners learn that the energy we move through ourselves to heal others also heals us. This is also true of our thoughts. If we send thoughts of hate and anger to others, we move that energy, those thoughts first into and through our own body and spirit. We send anger not just to one recipient, but through our own being and out into the whole world. The world doesn't need anger right now. It needs love. It needs love especially where it is wrapped in hate. Hate is a wound in the spirit of the world. I guess I'm asking us to put a bandage of love on it and not add more poison to the wound. That's what I'm going to try to do.

I pray for us all.

Hopefully with new leadership and the healing balm of time, we will find a road to peace in this world, to fighting hatred and ignorance with compassion and education. Hopefully we will learn to listen and respond not just to the ugly words and hate speech of the few, but to the pain and need of the many. Hopefully we will change ourselves and change the world. I believe that it's possible for the world to be a safe and healthy place for all it's citizens. We just have to put as much effort into peace as we so eagerly put into war.


An Open Heart said...

Beautiful essay....I concur, if the world united and prayed for the dark to become light....imagine what our world would look like?


Carletta said...

Very beautiful Raven! As true that day as today.

San said...

A beautiful essay, Raven. It is very sad to realize our country is polarized today. On that day in 2001 we came together.

Dianne said...

I was thinking about you, I always think about you when I think of peace

CJ said...

That was a great post.

I was working as a temp for a construction company when we heard that one of the towers had been hit by a plane. I assumed it was a terrible accident---until the next plane hit.

The next day everyone was talking about revenge ---all except me and a woman whose main objection was that she didn't want her teenaged son to be drafted.

I kept saying that there are reasons we are hated (rightly or wrongly) around the world, and that we needed to find those reasons and address them. Attacking would only confirm the terrorists' reasons for hating us and fuel their hatred.

Everyone thought I was naive. But I lived abroad for several years and I saw the U.S. from a global point of view. While I still believe I live in the best country in the world and I appreciate my own life and the opportunities I have had (probably moreso for having lived in the 3rd world) ---I still saw flaws that I would never have seen from home (sort of like one cannot see a marital problem from within as well as one can see it from the outside.)

When the tsunami hit Asia, the relief workers that arrived to help were loved by the victims, even though many said they hated Americans before they actually knew any. What if we had sent people to help dig wells, start chicken cooperatives, build schools, start small businesses, fight aids? It certainly couldn't cost as much as we spent for war. Although some people may have died from disease or accidents, there would not have been the great loss of life of our soldiers or the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan.

I still wonder how much we could have saved in lives, injuries, and money and how much we could have gained in respect from citizens of other nations by waging peace instead of waging war.