Sunday, September 11, 2011

A 9/11 reflection with dangling questions

Sunday morning, September 11, 2011, a decade to the day of those horrific attacks when those planes and their human hostages burned their 'brand' on the flank of the largest, most proud business/political/financial symbol of a culture, a quasi-religion and a nation. It was as if the actors who commandeered those planes were blind to their own faith tradition while grasping only a small number of its tenets, and were simultaneously blind to the complexities of their hated enemy.
Neither faith was adequately perceived, practiced nor honoured by those attacking, nor those attacked.
Some have called this attack a "clash of civilizations." Others have dubbed it a failure of intelligence. Others still, a 'sovereign failure.' Others even believe in a horrible conspiracy that includes both victim and perpetrator. Others have written about the failure to excise the anti-semitic bigotry that stood as some failed justification for the Third Reich, from some Islamic regions.
Whatever your point of view, each of us has a unique and permanent hole in our hearts that will weep whenever we return to a conscious picture of those events and their meaning. Some say the world lost its innocence on that day.
Others say that 'there is evil in the world' and that was an indication of it's acting out among us.
In March of 2001 my wife and I visited 'ground zero' when there were plywood ramps and observation deck providing a glimpse of the hole and the rubble and the scarred buildings still standing in lower Manhattan. The fires were out, much of the rubble had been removed. The smell of this carnage was only slightly different from normal. Yet, on a cosmic scale, it looked as if a monstrous knife had been inserted into the relationship between the United States and Israel ripping the guts and attempting to rip the heart/mind/soul out of the symbol of that relationship, those twin towers and the people within.
There is a profound contempt for the infidels among some adherents to Islam. There is a profound hatred for Israel and the people the world knows as Jews among many cultures. And there is a kind of perverse martyrdom seeking to right the wrongs of the world for a specious reward.
And as we share not only the oxygen and the oceans and the land masses, along with the environments that we call weather with all other humans, this series of events on a sunny September morning in 2001 demonstrates how we also share a common memory that scars us all.
How we unpack that memory, individually and collectively, will disclose much about the legacy we leave our grandchildren. And the questions that unpacking raises include, but are not restricted to:
  • Can we harness the fear sufficiently to turn the corner on hate, bigotry and revenge?
  • Can we learn to forgive, but never forget, in the pursuit of our own spiritual, mental and social health?
  • Can we search our own hearts for the causes and the reasons that we adhere so blindly to some tenets of a faith, or an ideology, or a ritual or a tradition.. that we sacrifice our highest and most sacred capacity to tolerate, to seek to understand, "the other" and to put down our swords and our rockets and our missiles and our chemicals, as well as our polluting effluents, in the larger interest of human survival and human community and compassion?
  • Can we grasp the beautiful, the life-giving and the love-engendering in ourselves and in others, without losing sight of the dangers inherent in that process?
  • Can we not only picture, but also seek to birth a world where our divisions, while interesting and provocative, are reduced to our intellectual curiosity, and do not require our termination or elimination, because of our fear?
  • Can we relate, on a human level, conscious, fully present and safe, to those whose language and heritage and culture and belief system differs from ours while building projects that reduce fear and contempt and hatred and jealousy and resentment?
  • And lastly, "WILL WE" find the courage even to walk with, explore, share and confront some of the unanswered questions remaining in the sinew of our scars and in the shadow of our psyche?

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