"To mourn is to be extraordinarily vulnerable. It is to be at the mercy of inside feelings and outside events in a way most of us have not been since early childhood." Christian McEwen - The Color of The Water, The Yellow of The Field.
Rather than formulating new thoughts about the 9/11 tragedy, I have decided to re-print an article that I wrote titled "The Aftermath" that was written out of the rawness of feelings that surfaced for me right after the terrorist attack on New York. My youngest daughter was in college at Columbia University in Manhattan at that time. I am a native New Yorker and the adage 'you can take the girl out of New York but you can't take the New York out of the girl' is absolutely correct.
I notice first that the same feelings still live on though blurred by time and therefore clothed in a new kind of normalcy that has worn down the sharp edges to make them more bearable on a day-to-day basis. My felt-sense is blunted like the rough edges of beach rocks that have tumbled to shore on the tumultuous tides of events since 2001. The sharpness of the edges has leveled off but the essence of the experience has become part of the fabric of my internal terrain as I continue to grapple with the hard and complex issues that must continuously be faced.
I still have more questions without answers and have learned through experience that the tough choices always bring with them the awareness that my heart hurts when it sees the destruction and devastation that looms large from all corners of our globe.
I continue to uncover and discover levels of fear, hate and rage that live inside my own consciousness and sometimes threaten to overtake my decision-making capabilities so that I can pretend that I am living in the land of right, just and secure rather than this insane mix of contradictions that our world relentlessly presents. What follows is that article from a past that is still producing experiences of like kind on a daily basis, particularly given the hostility that is being fostered during this election season.
Today I am required to reach into myself to find a centered place to operate from.
The place I took for granted last week no longer exists and the task of writing today is looming large. It feels like, at best, I am standing shakily on one foot; hardly a place that engenders the familiarity of my ordinary grounding.
One part of me wants to withdraw under the covers of blissful lack of clarity until some sense of normalcy surfaces.
I have so many questions and so few answers, which makes talking an exercise that transforms my own voice into a shadow of its normal clarity.
I want to wear red, white and blue and meld into being a "Patriotic American'. Then I cringe at the "We'll smoke them out, hunt them down and kill them" mentality. My mother's heart shrinks back from the notion of more dead bodies and grieving, shattered lives across the globe.
Do I vote for no action? No. War? No. Platitudes and naïve posturing? No. Nothing feels acceptable in the good guy, bad guy, right, wrong grab bag that is held out before us.
I wish that it were possible to bring together all the seven year-olds of the world and to borrow their new eyes to discover what their worlds look like, feel like, smell like, taste like and what experiences envelope them daily.
What would they communicate that would give us each a glimpse of the life experiences they are presently living as a result of our combined actions to date?
I believe we would have to go to the minds of seven year-olds to ferret out the level of contamination we have universally bred for generations. It is not enough to tap into the minds of seventy, sixty, fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, or even ten year-olds to find the bedrock of accumulated hate, cruelty, revenge, pain, suffering and inhumanity that has become second nature to us, the choice makers and creators responsible for the environments they are raised in..
I believe they would mouth the phrases that they have learned to use to make sense of their day-to-day experiences. I also believe that their eyes would tell another story. I think we would see vulnerability, clarity, frankness and forthrightness as well as an astonishing amount of accumulated pain, confusion, fear and uncertainty residing in the souls that have inhabited this planet for only seven years. I think these experiences would be uncovered as universal in all our children.
The only difference between them and us is how skilled we have become in numbing and blocking our lack of consciousness from ourselves and each other and the years we have had to accomplish that disconnection.
I feel as though we have been diagnosed with a cancer that may be terminal.
We are in shock.
We are being presented with general information on the modalities available to treat the disease. Time is of the essence, we are told. We must destroy the cancerous cells. We must decide on a comprehensive treatment plan.
We must proceed aggressively.
We must afford ourselves every possible means to combat this enemy.
Given the prognosis, it would seem foolish to do nothing. Given the information we have and the evidence so overwhelmingly put before us, war seems inevitable. Given that our current dictionaries define compassion and therefore any actions that proceed from that grounding as weak, tenderhearted, pitiful ramblings of the weak-minded and ineffectual who live in the clouds of denial; our course seems set towards destruction.
As I said earlier, I have many questions that for me are core disturbances of my mind and heart.
The first unanswered question is addressed in a quote by Margaret Mitchell. "No matter what rallying cries the orators give to the people who fight, no matter what noble purposes they assign to wars, there is never but one reason for a war. And that is money. All wars are in reality money squabbles."
The next question that begs to be answered is this: Why is it always necessary to make the world safe for democracy but never safe for children?
"Our human situation no longer permits us to make armed dichotomies between those who are good and those who are evil, those who are right and those who are wrong. The first blow dealt to the enemy's children will sign the death warrant of our own." Margaret Mead.
I pray that a course of action will surface that will allow us to respond as a genuine world power co-acting with other leaders around the globe and being ever mindful of power's twin – responsibility.