OPPORTUNITIES OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
By Arleen Lorrance
On September 11, 2001, I was walking in a charming city square in Tallinn, Estonia enjoying the company of members of our Baltic States tour group. A young woman ran up to us to inquire if we were Americans. She then poured out a shocking tale of what had just transpired in New York City. My immediate thought was that she had to be exaggerating. I could not conceive of planes deliberately flying into the World Trade Towers. Shortly, we returned to our hotel where we spent the night glued to CNN.
The next day we traveled to Riga, Latvia where all the flags hung at half-mast, topped by black ribbons. The people of Riga had lined the street across from the American Embassy with flowers, condolence cards, candles and prayers. At noon we attended a memorial service at the National Cathedral. People from every walk of life filled the sanctuary. The mood was somber. Those present were clearly mourners, respectful of Americans in their tragedy and embracing the whole of the human race in its time of grief. I have never been so touched attending a service anywhere at any time. The tears poured down my face as I sobbed unabashedly.
Prior to the start of the service I had the opportunity to greet the United States Ambassador and his wife, to hug them both, as if we were neighbors on the same street. We were neighbors, in the same world.
The President of Latvia attended the service, which was conducted in the native tongue as well as in English. The press was out in full force and the service was televised.
Just before we left, an interviewer and cameraman from the Christian Television Network approached Mariamne and me. They asked if they could interview us. They wanted to know how we, as Americans, felt about the attacks and the terrorists. I know we surprised them because both of us spoke about unconditional love for everyone concerned.
Almost three months after the event in New York City, I am more committed than ever to unconditional love. I long to find ways to lift the entire human race above terrorism and retaliation. The horror in New York has enabled me to see what I have learned and applied since my awakening to cosmic consciousness in 1969, and it has reinforced my knowing and strengthened my commitment to embodying wisdom. It has also challenged me to function as a Celebrant.
No Fear, But No Safety
The main discovery I made about my own evolution is that I feel no fear. When I returned to the States, I was very aware of the fear in people all around me in supermarkets, airports, and on the streets
Clearly the greatest achievement of the terrorists who sacrificed their lives as they smashed those planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in a brilliantly conceived and executed coup was to evoke fear in the American people. That fear caused havoc in our nation and in our economy as tens of thousands retreated from travel, from malls, from the stock market. It was not the terrorists who caused layoffs, diminished stock prices, and general sag. It was the response to the terrorist action. Americans created the reality that we as a people were no longer safe.
It is here that I see a great opportunity. September 11 was a wake up call to realize that we were never safe, that no one is ever safe. We can’t create security because there is no such thing. There is only life happening in each successive moment. The task of all of us is to meet each moment and choose how we will respond to what is transpiring.
In our wild quest for security, I, for one, do not want to give up some of our liberties; this is not only foolish, it is dangerous. It is to do to us what no terrorist could ever do. Terrorists can kill, maim, and destroy, but only we can weaken our democracy.
Those who live in fear and decide not to travel until it is safe, support terrorists all over the world. In the recent movie Monsters there is a clear message that the screams of those who allow themselves to be terrorized feed and energize those who seek to frighten us.
Some people don’t want to travel because they might get stuck somewhere and not be able to return home on time. They are functioning as if they always have control over life circumstances and they are waiting for the reinstatement of that control. It is my hope that terrorists have helped to destroy that illusion.
There is not only a resurgence of patriotism today; there is also an apparent return to organized religion. I can understand the need for camaraderie. I experienced it deeply in Riga. But the rush to ask God to bless America puzzles me. Where was this “God” to whom people are now praying while America was being attacked? God seems to come to life for many people only when fear levels rise. In the movie K-PAX I was very taken by the fictional line that religion went out in the year 2033 after scientists discovered the gene that caused fear!
Even during times of stress, I do not revert to a concept of God outside of Self. Instead, I experience that I am being asked to function consciously, to make choices, and to evolve.
Which Side Is “Evil;” and “Where” Is God?
It seems to me that in this time of stress, “God” is being harnessed by each side as each calls itself righteous. The terrorists see the West as evil and our President, calling the other side “evil,” has taken on the task of eliminating evil from the world. One cancels out the other.
President Bush says that Osama bin Laden seeks to develop “evil weapons” such as chemical, biological, and nuclear devices. I can only shake my head in bewilderment over such a statement when it is my very own country that is responsible not only for developing, but also for marketing and using such “evil” weapons. I do not see us as justified because we have named ourselves the Good Guys of the World. As a nation, we created the very elements that haunt us today.
Recently Secretary Powell stated that Saddam Hussein has not complied with U.N. inspections to determine if he is building weapons of mass destruction, and that if he doesn’t comply we will take action. Again my head spins; do we not have weapons of mass destruction? When asked if compliance by Hussein would end the U.S. involvement, Powell replied no. He said that Hussein’s government is not good for their country or for the United States and that it needs to be replaced. I tried to keep my jaw from dropping open but it wouldn’t remain closed. The United States acts as the self-proclaimed policeman of the world, and we speak as if we will determine how each country shall be run and as if we alone know best. While there are many patriots within our borders who would affirm that this is true and is the way it should be, I remain dumbfounded. I can see no long-term good coming from our arrogance or self-righteousness.
In our U.S. zeal to control international politics and keep Russia from acquiring Afghanistan in the 1980’s, we trained, supported and supplied those who are the terrorists we seek to destroy today.
According to Eric S. Margolis, a foreign affairs columnist for Canadian and Pakistani newspapers, and author or War at the Top of the World – The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tibet, 2000, during the current U.S. retaliation in Afghanistan, the Russians moved in to gain what we previously prevented. Through their relationship with the Northern Alliance, whom they encouraged to take over Kabul in defiance of Bush’s dictates, Russia has regained control of the best potential oil pipeline routes in the world. It would appear that while seeking to gain geopolitical advantage, the U.S. might have blundered. Moscow may now be free to continue its plans to dominate South and Central Asia in concert with its strategic allies, India and Iran. If this is indeed true, what I learn personally from this is that when any of us seeks to control, we often blindside ourselves and help the reverse of our desires to manifest.
Seeking to eliminate evil is an act of futility. We live in a world of ever-present polarities. What might eventually change is which two forces are juxtaposed. When the human race reaches a level of embracing and embodying greatness, then we might move beyond the polarities of good and evil. However, I doubt we are ready for such a shift since we, as a world, this day, are focused on good destroying evil rather than good evolving to greatness. This is an opportunity for me to love our stage of development and to affirm that each of us can only do what we can see. We cannot go beyond that.
In these days of calamity I have one opportunity after another to receive all people as beautiful exactly as they are. In our country, the man who might have become the Vice President of the United States and who currently sits in the United States Senate, Joseph Lieberman, openly called for the assassination of Saddam Hussein. I was shocked at such an irresponsible statement. I don’t appreciate Hussein’s policies, politics, or tactics, but I can hardly see myself blatantly demanding that he be murdered. Given such a call by a U.S. Senator, is it not an invitation to anyone in the world who disagrees with U.S. policies (for example, our supporting dictatorships for our own political and economic advantage while perpetuating death and suffering in those countries) to call for the immediate assassination of our President? What we send out may well take the shape of a boomerang and come right back to us. Should something like that happen it would be one more tragedy for us to deal with.
Senator Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew. Is it a trait of fundamentalists of any religion to champion death and destruction? No wonder I have always shied away from religion.
Religion, by its nature, separates humanity into differing belief systems. Those arbitrary separations cause the world continuing grief and lead to the ultimate oxymoron: a “Holy War.”
The events of September 11, 2001 opened a world of opportunity to all of us. Humanity is one being. The actions of any one of us not only affect all of us, but also could be committed by any of us. None among us are innocent bystanders. We are all part of one fabric. We all contribute to the unfolding world and we are all affected by everyone’s choice and actions.
We stand at the threshold of a paradigm shift in which each of us is being challenged to wake up from patterned living and to evolve as individuals. I seek to function as a Celebrant. To do that I must embrace the struggles exhibited by every aspect of the Self, knowing that each expression of that Self is doing the best it can, for now, in every moment. That includes the terrorist part of Self that takes thousands of lives in suicide attempts to destroy what it calls evil, namely, the retaliatory part of Self that spends one billion dollars a month bombing and destroying in an effort to wipe out what it calls evil. Both of these aspects of self seek to assassinate those it calls its enemies and separate themselves from others in the name of religion.
In the wake of September 11, we can ask ourselves to wake up, to make choices, and to lift ourselves into new realities. An example of this was eloquently carried out recently when 20,000 Hindus made a new choice. They had been entrapped in the outlawed but still practiced category of untouchables. Rather than continue to be suppressed in this way, they lifted up into a totally new reality and became Buddhists. Now, they are no longer untouchable or suppressed. They broke the yolk and stepped forward into freedom.
May all of us find the ways to break our yokes – be they of fear, hatred, or warring. May we discover how to celebrate life, champion life, honor and cherish the Self by respecting and loving each other. And as we journey toward that, I remind myself that I can find no fault with the United States actions against terrorism because the nation is engaged in a struggle to discover how to go forward. I do not want to sit back and say to terrorists, “Do as you wish.” I want to find a way to champion life, to stand beside those who are victimized here and abroad, and most of all, to set an example with my own life of how we can listen to one another, address grievances, and work together to raise the level of everyone’s freedom and creativity. I don’t have the answers but I do have the desire to find them and to be part of a new, emerging reality.
Many who oppose all war have for years been among those who urged the United States and the United Nations to do something about the oppressive Taliban regime and especially its treatment of women. Talking to the Taliban did no good. The suffering continued. While war is not a way I would choose, the irony is that in this hunt for terrorists the removal of the oppressive regime has in fact occurred. While the end might not justify the means, what I see is that good was derived from military aggression and retaliation. Once again I affirm that in all good there is something lesser and in all that is called “evil” there is something worthwhile. Opportunity comes from the core of everything and each of us needs to make individual choices about what is personally in harmony for us. It is not for us to condemn what others choose as harmonious for them.
I wish on a daily basis that the Israelis would reach wholeheartedly to the Palestinian people and fully support their creation of a state. But when terrorists wantonly take life in Israel, what shall I say to a people who have a living memory of millions being slaughtered while the world stood by in non-responsive avoidance? It is not for me to tell any people what to do or how to do it. It is a major job for me to converse consciously with myself and choose on a moment-to-moment basis the imprint I will make upon my world.
Perhaps within our lifetime all human beings can discover how archaic hatred and destruction are, and how powerful love and union are. However, some wisdom teachers have indicated that human reeducation will take about 750,000 years. In the interim, it would be best if we all developed patience.