"Anger and hatred are the materials from which hell is made" – Thich Nhat Hanh, Peach Is Every Step, p56.
In all the knee-jerk reactions to Tuesday's events, there have been many declarations of war, and very few attempts at analysis or understanding. We've gone into attack mode, painting the unknown perpetrators of Tuesday's tragedy as "evil" and as "cowards." The march toward war has begun with the dehumanization of the unknown enemy and the whipping up of nationalistic fervor. Oddly enough, the word I find myself returning to again and again is compassion, and I think back to something I read a long time ago, "In the time of war, raise in yourself the Mind of Compassion."
When Oklahoma City was bombed I remember feeling very angry; I remember wanting revenge. Now I don't feel angry, I just feel sad. Watching the TV coverage of the Palestinians celebrating in the street, I couldn't help but notice that so many were children, young boys, who were cheering the destruction. I felt such sadness watching them, trying to imagine the world in which they're growing up, an existence infused with hatred. In America the media offers so little coverage of why the situation in the Middle East exists as it does. And we are so removed from our actions (both direct, such as bombing Iraq, and indirect, such as selling weapons to Israel,) that we have no concept of their results. Or rather, we had no concept. Until now.
I keep hearing on the news that we had a failure in the intelligence community and a failure in airplane security. But we failed a long time before someone missed a threat, before someone slipped knives passed airport security. We failed when we failed to understand just how angry, just how hateful, some people had become. Anger and hatred *are* the materials from which hell is made, and that hell right now is lower Manhattan.
Perhaps it's my way of dealing with this tragedy: to look for some explanation so that things "make sense" again, albeit in a horribly twisted and confused way. I want us all to understand the deeper why in why this happened, for if we don't, how can we move forward? How can we prevent this from ever happening again?
PBS is rebroadcasting the Frontline on Osama bin Laden tonight at 9 PM. The Independent (from the UK) takes a look at some of the history of the Middle East in attempt to understand the hatred we witnessed on Tuesday. The Economist has an article, America's place in the world, which explores 21st century American foreign policy options. From The Guardian (UK), They can't see why they are hated: Americans cannot ignore what their government does abroad (this piece is outstanding, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED). From the New York Times: World War III. If you have more links to articles trying to examine the deeper causes of Tuesday's attack, please send them to me. I'd like to compile a list.
- The Counterterrorist Myth from the Atlantic Monthly, "A former CIA operative explains why the terrorist Usama bin Ladin has little to fear from American intelligence"
- Understanding Osama bin Laden from AlterNet.org
- US must realize there are no quick fixes, a Boston Globe op-ed
- Text of Osama bin Laden's Fatwah urging Jihad against Americans (02/23/1998)