Love in the Face of Terror

Bartering Being Right for Being Love. 
1030592887More bombings. More terror. Tuesday morning, on the eve of a solar eclipse, suicide bombs and automatic weapons took the lives of over 30 people in Brussels. After 5 people died in Istanbul the previous Saturday. The two recent attacks claimed over 2oo wounded. And there were others before. Large and small. High profile and low. A lineage of hatred ringing through the streets. Our streets. The streets of human hope, life and understanding. Its hard not to be angry and frightened. And so, its easy to react with hatred, passing down hatred through a succession of aggression. And many will do that. And, this is natural and, for now, unavoidable. But, there are some who will stand in the face of terror. There are those who will offer love and caring for the victims and a world torn by hatred. It takes great bravery to do this. My heroes are those who stand for love regardless. Who don’t fall for the easy action, and instead try and face the danger with an open heart and open eyes. It is imperative that some of us begin to understand this anger and offer kindness in its stead.

Facing terror with an open heart will seem naive to some. But, by opening the heart instead of shying away we are willing to try and see. By accepting with radical allegiance what has happened in hopes of understanding how to heal this and break the chain. We may not have answers.  But, if we remain dedicated to waiting through the pain, perhaps we can one day find a way out of this. But, if not, and if this violence continues until it ends us, at least some will have given the love and care that is so needed in the midst of pain. Someone has to answer blood with heart, or we will never heal. And if we never heal, we will never grow beyond these cycles of self-interest and self-protection.

For those brave enough to face the terror, perhaps we can be still long enough to see its entire scope.  While we revile terrorism for its animal cruelty and relegate terrorists to sub-human status, we have given ourselves the moral permission to place all our frustration, fear and anger onto a nondescript other. This momentary empowerment feels right. It feels strong. But the more we grip, the more vulnerable. By closing our mind in a vice, we are actually more vulnerable.  We are vulnerable not only to danger, but to being manipulated by those who broker in fear and hatred. We all love the underdog in movies. We identify with native struggles, and those oppressed by stronger cultures. This “Robin Hood” syndrome is a very real human impulse. The United States itself identifies as rebels in it’s inception. But were the patriots we revere deemed terrorists to some?  How was our own country viewed by the native people of this continent? How were we viewed by slaves torn from their families, shipped and traded like cattle to support an illegal economy?  And how are we seen to young children growing up in the middle east with scant hope and little opportunity to realize their basic human ambitions? They are easily manipulated by those who profit from their anger, and frankly the first world is an all too easy target.

But, the truth is, we are all victims of aggression. There is poverty and disempowerment in the first world, as well. There are victims of abuse in our safe American homes who can so easily turn toward hatred to find a way from their pain. Hate on hate on hate on hate. Our lineage of suffering might look senseless and cruel from the outside, but it feels so heroic within. This hatred keeps us spinning, and in our spinning, we no longer see. We only grasp the closest ally, and follow the strongest current. In this way, we are all unwitting adjuncts to our destruction. And in the melee, we miss the reality, for it is a sad truth that in times of duress victims will kill victims. We are so caught in the bloodlust, we forget to see the obvious. For instance, an obvious thought is that terror costs money. Who has the money?  I’m sure that few people dressed in a suicide belt come from great wealth and power. Where is the money that supports them? Along with pictures of the carnage, why are there not articles on who is financing and who is actually benefitting from terror? Where is the money? If we stop the money, and prosecute the pipeline of arms and resources, might we not slow the progress of hatred? Might we not be able to separate out the causes and conditions and begin to see how to untie the knot?  Then those left in the trenches might be free to communicate and begin to understand what creates this hatred. Unfortunately, then we would have to listen to stories we’d rather not hear. We’d have to begin to see ourselves tin the other. And, that is so very much more complicated than blame.

No, its easier to stay with the simple. Its easier to build walls and blow up markets than to try and see what someone else sees. And because of this blindness, we are at the mercy of the momentum. We are pulled like bulls from our nose. We are lead to slaughter again and again. So, while anger is easily justified, some of us simply must try something else. Some of us must take the mantle of kindness and peace in the face of war. Some of us must stand to open our hearts, if not to the aggressors, at least to the victims.  So it will be said, never forget, and please don’t let them have died in vain. And monuments will be erected. And those slogans will be used to rally further war. This is what has happened, and what will happen again.

But, our memories of the victims can also be used to rally peace. Don’t let the victims die in vain. Let their suffering pose an opportunity for us to bond in compassion and caring. Let us forgive the easy answers for the bravery of being love in this time of hatred. This will change the world.

And, if you think that this is naive, and an avoidance of the responsibility of action, then please show me how aggression has helped. Maybe sometimes it has. More often its probably just unavoidable. But, in any case, it has added to the myth of the preeminence of might. And, justified or not, this has obscured our ability to see past vicious struggles for survival to greater human understanding. If we choose love, we do something different. We take a moment to pause and for a brief, but very important moment, we break the chain. And that break proves that the chain is not unbreakable. And that gap might open the window to an opportunity to develop a new way of working with our pain. Maybe then instead of erecting statues to commemorate war, we can build monuments to peace. Instead of using victims suffering adventitiously to strengthen ourselves, we can share in their pain and create greater compassion and understanding in the world.

I do not have that understanding now. I am angry as well. I do not know what is right, or who is right or what is best. But, I know that I want to make a statement for peace, because peace is what is needed.  Simply that. There are warriors, and their are healers. The world has always been this way. Let us not forget the healing. Let us not forget understanding. Let us not forget to sit in meditation or prayer and in honor of those who suffer, face the terror with love.

One thought on “Love in the Face of Terror

  1. Back in September of 2001, I remember an image that someone reported seeing, or perhaps it was a myth: two people jumping from the tower, holding hands. I cannot imagine the terror of that moment, high above the ground, flames and smoke, and loved ones so far away. It makes me weep to think of it. But that moment seemed to me then as it does now, to be the crux of our existence: hand in hand in the face of our fear, in the face of the inevitable destruction that we don’t like to think about. It seems to me that maybe the best can do is reach out for one another’s hands.

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