My feminist, jewish/buddist perspective
My Jew-Bu Take on Terror and "Isms"
By Tova Gabrielle
Thich Nat Han, the Viet Nam monk and Buddhist teacher, was once asked how he could refrain from hating the U.S. after our military killed his entire family. Apparently, he’d replied that he couldn’t hate us because it was clear to him that someone had to have driven these youth crazy, for them to have carried out such horrific acts.
The monk relocated to the very country that destroyed his own, and "got even" by teaching peace here.
As a middle-class American Jew/Buddhist, I have never suffered like Tich Nat Han. I have no experience with terrorism, only a working hypothesis, and seemingly endless questions.
Yet collectively the American and the Jew have survived terror: American Revolutionaries as well as survivors of the Civil War experienced real terror. And isn’t all warring, terrorism?
Historically, at our visionary best, Americans have been highly principled, idealistic, tough and resolute. But, unlike US today, these idealists knew what it was like to be dispossessed or oppressed, and came here with hearts that were already broken. Ours are only breaking now.
An unforeseen benefit of our suffering since 9/11 is that it has opened us to a much greater sense of unity and compassion, at least towards each other, but when will it extend towards all life.
When will we move from national patriotism to world patriotism. A loyalty which as sorrowfully and tenderly, transcends our privileged country, and grieves for and embraces our home, the Earth.
A friend of mine, noting how much having a common enemy brings unity, has a theory that it would take a virtual alien invasion for the citizens of this planet to truly rally all together .
In Hebrew, the word, "Shalom" means "fullness"; Not "otherness". I cringe when Patriotism means "othering", entire groups of people we simply neither wish to comprehend, nor whose extremes we wish to identify with.
But even, if someone has a less bhuddist perspective, who would disagree on the wisdom to know thy enemy. In order to know someone, or a group, don't we need to stretch to absorb their reality and condition, viscerally? Isn't this the real peace process--and not a contest of wills?
Anyhow, even if you choose to use "othering" as a way of getting in the mood to kill, the terrorist certainly won’t be gleaning peaceful solutions from our upping the ante. While at best, he may learn to have an even greater fear and or loathing, and even if that will "shut him down", his overall paranoia or desperation, might increase his need for engagement in the power struggle, and not subdue it.
Emergencies require deep thinking and insight. They do not require a sense of outraged and entitled retailliation; and if we believe they do, then we are fools to imagine that our enemies would not act or attempt to act likewise.
It’s only sane that we not subjugate being "right" to being "effective". If we deny and don’t address the psychological roots of the problem, like a wart, it appears later on.
I remain in favor of cherishing all life, not only our American way of life. In Judaism, it is against the law to kill trees. I cringe at what war does to the environment.
If the big-wigs in Washington insist that we must kill or destroy, they should at the very least, do so without the glee that the terrorists displayed when celebrating in the streets after learning of the Twin Towers demise. I worry it will never end until we both stop trying to control each other, and begin to control ourselves. How is jingoism and patriotic fervor bent on being better than others, different in intensity and affect from the strident fundamentalist who believes he or she has God on his side. Is not the righteous call for more war, our leaders' acting as angry Gods -- is not our country's extreme vengeance a message to the rest of the world that we believe that we have a more special relationship with God than others do.
What could be more infuriating. This Bush type fundamentalism is neither the roots of any world religions nor is it any brand of attitude I call true patriotism.
I can only find temporary respite in the stance which assumes that all beings ultimately seek love and happiness. That we are all, at our most basic nature, comprised of and fed by nothing more than love itself. From there, I can only wait and believe that since love is the source of all life as well as that to which we all return, that no matter how long it takes, the human race will find it’s way back to the ocean of love that surrounds us all, if and when we choose to see it.