all been moved by the events of the past week. The killing of Osama bin Laden
has been a kind of watershed moment. I’m not very comfortable with all the
jubilation but I can understand that many people want to express their feelings
this way. My prayer is that it brings an end to all forms of hate and extremism
and opens a new dialogue between America and the Arab world. We are moving
towards a time of great change and the more intolerance and hatred there is,
the harder that transition will be.
I remember the time of the 9/11 bombings very well. I was living here in Dublin. I had just moved into a new apartment, it’s probably safe to say I wasn’t in the greatest place mentally. This was before my own awakening, but I was in the spiritual supermarket. It’s hard to forget that image, played over and over, of the plane going into the first tower; that tower falling. And then the second one. All that billowing smoke, you could almost taste it. At first it was total disbelief. I was numb all day. Here in Ireland there was sadness on the faces of everyone. No one knew how to channel those feelings. I remember attending an ecumenical service a few days later. Shops and businesses closed down for a whole day, people wanted to do something, show solidarity with their American friends.
For those actually in New York it must have been hell. The panic, unchecked fear; terror that something even worse might happen. All primordial fears come to the surface. Why are they doing this to us, to me? Why do they hate us? It’s like a raw wound, deep and lacerated. It feels like nothing can ease the pain at the time and that it will never end. Of course wounds do heal, and in time a semblance of normality returns. But for those who lost loved ones the private hell continues.
Then there were the reprisals that followed. And further bombings in Bali, Madrid, London and India.
It changed our lives completely. Air travel became a more hazardous task. I remember going to the States pre 9/11 and we were hardly even checked going through. A state of inner safety had been replaced by a state of fear. New legislation introduced in America appeared to infringe on civil liberties. Not to mention Guantanamo. Internment without due respect to the law didn’t work then, as it didn’t in Northern Ireland some decades earlier; in hasn’t work in Russia, it never will.
Intolerance is ugly wherever it raises its head, be it Creationists who believe the world is only a few thousand years old, al-Qaida terrorism, or Church cover up of child abuse. When we harbour hate and intolerance in our hearts this is what we get. And it’s not a new thing, we saw it down the ages, the Cathars, the Crusades, Salem witch trials, I could go on. I am aware that bin Laden didn’t represent most Moslems, at the heart of that faith is a belief in peace and a deep reverence for God.
The Source of all life knows nothing about hate. When we indulge in hatred we are separating ourselves from the light, from love, from the Source. What we hate we hold on to. It will reappear in our lives, in some future time, maybe a future life, not so much as a punishment, or because karma follows us around like a bad penny but because we’ve held on to it. What you keep becomes part of your life.
Let us remind ourselves in this very important moment of the Buddha’s words
“Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love
alone is healed.”
I hope the events of last week bring closure to those who are still grieving lost ones, or still have painful memories of that day that they can’t let go of. But let us not rejoice in the killing of anyone. If we have decided that someone is our enemy then we have entered their mindset, and become, just a little, as they are.
It is time for a new beginning.
See also Resurrection for a slightly different look at the events of 9/11.
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