I haven’t written in a while, in fact it’s probably the longest time in years that I haven’t had reflective thoughts or should I say none that pushed me to put them to paper. Yet, I do feel the need to write, to contemplate and to reflect. I feel a nervous agitation within myself that tells me that something is stirring within and needs to get out.
Even after the September 11th disaster in New York nothing appeared in my thoughts or should I say in my soul. I have reflected, read the thoughts of others and agonized over what happened and what people have been saying. I have contemplated the whole spectrum of response. There has been one extreme that says that there can be no justification by reason, rationale or excuse for this event and another that this disaster is just a symptom of a long untreated greater malaise. Most troubling, for me, are those who would suggest that we shouldn’t discuss, debate or even reflect on any aspects of “why” for fear that it might lend credence to those who perpetrated the disaster. Since time began people have contemplated “why” what makes the world so different today that we shouldn’t.
Supposedly, some would say, that we are more educated, more aware and more progressive today than other generations. We certainly do have more tools than ever before to assist with any analysis. We give ourselves credit that we have created a “developed” world and many that do these kinds of things emanate from a world, which is “undeveloped”.
What does developed truly mean? I look around my own world and see so many achievements that we can attest to that help us think or in many cases that think for us. We have doors that automatically open for us, street lights that not only tell us when to walk but how much time we have for walking. We have machines that count for us, computers that correct our every written mistake (even when we don’t want them to) and a myriad of technological devices that supposedly makes life so much easier.
Why then, if life is easier, is there so much stress, so much hardship (even in our own communities) and so much fear? Why do we have so many “terrorists” in our own society if we have created through technology such a nirvana?
We don’t have to look very far to find terrorism of one kind or another or for that matter fear beyond even that felt by those in New York or those who suffered bombings in the Second World War. We don’t have to stray far from our homes to hear of killings, murders and brutality of all forms. For those of us who work in communities and with people we see varying degrees of dysfunctionality in most aspects of the work that we do.
I do agree that we shouldn’t embolden those that perpetrated this gross act of terror with excuses, or even platitudes. We certainly need to find ways that lessen the ability of people to so freely create such disasters. And it is important that justice of some form be brought to bear on those that created, enabled and enacted this dire plot. What I can’t understand is how replicating this act of terrorism on the poor and suffering of another part of the world provides any sort of solution. I believe that all this does is provide an enhancement of the myth and embolden the cause of whoever was creative enough to perfect this desperate act. Of one thing we must be certain, that whoever these people are they are creative, intelligent and educated individuals no matter their cruelty, brashness or madness.
This brings me back to my original thoughts. Are we in the “developed” world more aware, more educated and more progressive than those in less developed places? Or, instead, are we just pulling the cloak of technology over our plain and simple souls just as the terrorists wrap themselves in their ideologue and religious biases. For one thing is certain that these people, the terrorists, the religious leaders, and those who are led and driven by them are humans just as we are. What they lack is the degree of “humanness” towards other people that their true religious doctrine might suggest.
Are we too, as individuals and society loosing our “humanness” as well? This is something that has been chewing at me personally for a while now and it is only apparent as I write these thoughts and such feelings appear. Have we become so enamored with our careers, our comfortable lifestyle and our many gadgets and trinkets that we have forgotten what humanness is all about? How else can we explain people who yell and scream at others (from their own cars) when one makes a minor mistake while driving? How are we to understand the shooting of several people in Montreal on Saturday night by someone who was aggrieved at not being allowed immediate access into a bar? How are we to appreciate the cries by many during this September’s crisis to “just nuke them” when even now it is still far from clear who “they” are. I am fairly certain that there are few of “them” experiencing the either the wrath of the bombings or the scourge of famine taking place.
Writing this I am deep into reflection of my own life and actions. I have felt for many years that my own humanness was my most precious possession. Yet, I know that I have caused hurt to many people, have created despair and even suffering to others resulting from my own set of beliefs, my own ideals and my own sense of being right. At this particular time in my own life I find myself less able to contemplate all, more tired from my efforts to “do good” and more agitated, less tolerant and more aggressive in my everyday life.
Thus the reason for my own very basic need for reflection, for contemplation and for hesitation. I know that something must be done within my own life much as everyone knew after September 11th that something must be done – but the question for myself and for everyone must be “what”. During my own periods of agitation when I feel wronged I often react. The reaction most often then causes other actions, which I hadn’t even imagined because contemplation was never a part of the exercise. Other times I have thought or written like I am doing today, not sure what to write, but just write. This often leads me to insight, to reflection, to some degree of understanding. The time taken delays reaction, sometimes long enough to make any reaction unnecessary. Other times it provides insight for more positive action.
Like most people of my age, I find myself spending a lot of time in reflection of my life, where it has been and where it is going. At this age one is aware that they have crested the hill of this lifetime. I feel it in my bones, in my mind and in my soul. I also feel a stronger than ever need to do, to change, and to shift all that is wrong in our society and that of others. I also experience more trepidation, angst and fear than before in my life – and I can assure you that I have had a lifetime full of these kinds of thoughts.
Our generation, and they comprise most of the leadership today, are at a pivotal point in history both personally and societal. We are the ones that helped destroy most of the myths that others created. We have contributed to the diminishment of the many institutions that existed within our society. We have developed a mindset of individualism amongst ourselves and in our communities. This has resulted in the sullying of most of the values that allowed us the freedom and prosperity that we have experienced.
We have resultantly, become terrorists to ourselves, to our families, to our communities and to our societies. We have captured from our own ideological doctrines that which we felt useful to our cause, much the same as the terrorists have utilized material from the Muslim ideology to justify their ends. We have used this machinated ideology to create a foundation for our society, which is so fragile and weak that, any tremor whatsoever causes it to wrench and tear creating turmoil and fear. Then, we lash out, we blame and we punish all those who remind us of our fragile state and our own impermanence as if this will solve once and for all our dilemma. We want to exterminate any that would hold a mirror that allows us to see our own wrinkles, scars and imperfections. We subsequently terrorize ourselves with written and written laws that diminish our freedoms, thoughts and awareness as if this alone will provide us security and longevity.
I personally believe that even if this current war kills or maims the few who were responsible we will only postpone the inevitable further clashes that occur when people and societies are so far out of step economically, socially and spiritually. Far better for us to show our love for all those that are despairing in order to remove the foundations of despair that people claim are the reasons and rationale for their terrorist actions.
What is required is true and reflective contemplation and a revisiting of the myths that others created long ago in order that they might survive in a world that humans weren’t meant to understand. We will find, I am sure, the very basis for humanness engendered in kindness, caring and love. For isn’t that what forms the basis of all the myths of spiritual design since time began.
Unfortunately, in a society of individualism, with a mentality driven to do and within a world awaiting results such a concept is considered esoteric, beyond reality and considered in the realm of the ideal. What is evident deep within myself, when my robes of modernity, selfishness and arrogance are laid aside there appears the discovery of warmth , compassion and love. What’s also evident on this day, as these feelings appear, is that I haven’t been deep within myself for some time?
As you can see I still have much to contemplate, much on which to reflect and many myths to explore before I can build the foundation in my own life that I truly believe are fundamental. Like everyone in my generation my time is getting shorter, my need for action getting greater and my desire for perfection becoming stronger. I imagine that life appears to be like that until we gain the wisdom that is so fundamental to true humanism.
Written by Bill Pardy
October 21st, 2001