May 2, 2011

Set Free

I have been burdened by a series of conflicting emotions since I first heard the news, so this post could flow in many different directions. I followed the Twitter feed, which started with conjecture, moved to corroboration and weirdly ended with celebration. I did my part to quiet the simmering jubilation that was quickly spreading across the web...


...but still feel like something more needs to be said, if for no other reason than I need to clear my own head. I will start in a place that most of you would not expect me to ever venture- scripture:
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
    —Luke 6:27-31. KJV
This passage is the one section of the Bible I have always loved and respected. I believe the promotion of unconditional love is the very spirit of Christianity, not just Christianity but all religion. The concept of compassion and tenderness, of forgiveness and empathy is also a cornerstone of Buddhism. I find it ironic that many will read a passage like the one above and claim it to be idealistic or naive.

"It would be great if we lived in a world like that, but how can we allow monsters like Osama and Hilter get away with evil?"

I guess this is where I see values and morals and commitment to love as more than lip service. Yes it is difficult to do good to them which hate you. It is not everyman who can bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. But if we ever want to move toward a true peace, we must begin to understand that vengeance and violence only lead to more of the same. I also do not believe in evil or sin. Every problem, every villain is a product of cause and effect. To change mankind, we do not rid our hearts of sin or attack evil, we search for our own hatreds and replace them with love. You want to defeat men like Osama learn to forgive and love them. It will not happen overnight, but the other way has never worked. Look through any history for evidence of revenge.

It is easy to follow the pack and demand revenge. It is easy to hate and celebrate the death of a monster, but it is not so easy to stand firm and demand love when it is undeserved. It takes courage to see beauty where it is hidden. It takes strength to be able to act non-violently.

Before I am accused of self-righteousness, let me be the first to say I seldom have this strength. I too find it impossible to give love when given hate, but if we believe in the power of love, if we believe in the value of peace we can never resort to hate and violence, because when we allow vengeance and hatred to enter our heart, we immediately become that which we hate.

To celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden is to allow him victory. He is a man who fans hatred and violence. He dwells in ignorance and a world in which ideas are black or white. Good and evil. But love exists beyond such dichotomous premises. I am in no way endorsing Bin Laden, on the contrary I am saying that to defeat him and his ideology we must face hate with love, violence with peace, aggression with calm.

I sleep tonight with a heavy heart knowing that men and woman on both sides celebrate and mourn not with love in their hearts, but with vengeance and hatred. In America, people will take pride in a military machine that has caused the deaths of millions of people since its inception, cost trillions of needed dollars, and done nothing to promote peace in the world. The rest of the world will plot new schemes and create new strong men to rally the ignorant to violence. Nothing has changed because of this act. Nothing has been made better, safer, or more peaceful. There is nothing to celebrate no one to honor, no reason for pride.If it is the young people in the military we want to honor, then bring them home. Educate them, find them them from the cycle of death.

Now we just wait and see how the other side will react. Declarations of revenge? Suicide bombings? Is the War in Terror over? We are pawns in a theater of propaganda architects. We cheer, we sob. Our emotions are gristle for their mill. I am looking deep in my heart and trying to take back my emotions from the clutches of the mob. I ask you do the same. Ask yourself, "What does it say about me when I celebrate death? Why do I take joy in violence? Are my emotions spreading peace or violence? Will their revenge be justified? If they feel they are right?"

Going in circles so I will stop here and maybe continue in the comments...I hope the comments remain civilized.

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