Eight Years….Has It Changed Us? – The Affirmation Spot for Friday September 11, 2009

Whatever anger rules anger destroys. Wherever love pervades, hope and possibility flourish.

Eight years ago today the world witnessed what happens when hatred and violence shape human actions. September 11, 2001 was the world’s first truly global terrorist event. The scale, the number of people from around the world gone in a moment, and the planetary TV audience brought us all closer together, if only for a moment.

In the days that followed, I wrote the following open letter. It was partly an attempt to come to terms with my own feelings and partly an attempt to sway anyone who might have been reading that we must find better ways to live together on this planet.

Here is the letter in its entirety from September 14, 2001.

This letter is dedicated to the victims, their families, the rescue workers, and everyone who is a voice or a pair of hands for a more peaceful world.

The events of this past week have shocked and saddened all well-meaning people the world over. As an American, my heart breaks for the people tragically victimized by this act. As a human being my heart hemorrhages, that we still live in a world that believes killing each other is a solution to our problems. How regrettable that we human beings still choose to address our grievances with each other in such destructive ways.

It is devastating to witness the results of such hatred, bigotry, and violence in action. No cause, no complaint against the United States can ever justify the actions taken by these fanatics. Their misguided interpretation of their beliefs and their unwillingness to see Americans as fellow human beings, worthy of life, caused them to conclude that any action against America was justified. The outpouring of human emotion and determination this week from around the world should let them know they have crossed a line drawn by all civilized societies and sane human beings.

In our effort to draw that line, we bring ourselves into danger. Not only the physical danger of responding to their actions, but the psychological and spiritual temptations to become like the terrorists to defeat them. If we allow our desire for revenge on groups of people to overcome our need for justice for the individuals responsible, we are in danger of becoming undifferentiated from them. If we succumb to the fear resulting from the terrorist’s actions and curtail the basic liberties we hold dear in our society, then the very thing that sets us apart and is worth defending becomes a victim of these acts. Ben Franklin, the wisest of our founding fathers, said, “Those who give up their liberty for a little temporary security, shall have neither liberty nor security.” Our leaders and our citizens would do well to recall these words as we address what measures should be taken to balance our freedoms with our security.

This week has been a time for grief over the deaths of many of our fellow-citizens as well as a significant number of foreign nationals representing more than 40 countries. By this measure, this was indeed an attack on the entire civilized world. As grief turns to anger and then to action, it is important for us to measure our actions and do what is right not just what would make us feel better. In the aftermath of these events, we might feel justified in doing almost anything. We may believe that retaliating against innocent people or attacking our fellow citizens who might look or share the same religion, in name, as the terrorists is acceptable. Such actions would only make us guilty of sinking to the same level as these criminals. As Americans it is our responsibility in the world to set a different example and show the world different and better ways to solve problems. Simply responding in kind will surely bring a cycle of violence, whose results we cannot predict, and leave us with the same long-term problems experienced elsewhere in this world when violence becomes the only means of communication.

There is plenty of suffering to go around. The victims and their families are suffering, our country is suffering, and the world is suffering as we relive these events on videotape over and over again. In this time of righteous anger, it is also important to contemplate the amount of self-inflicted suffering that must be necessary for any person to carry out this kind of terror. It is a time to reflect on the ways in which we all bring suffering into our lives and the lives of others. It can be a time when, in addition to justice, we seek new ways of relating to each other and working for a world where no one feels either the right or the impulse to inflict such things on others. Suffering was brought by these attacks. Killing more people in response will only increase suffering not bring solutions.

So from tragedy comes opportunity. We have seen this week the heroism of those working directly to help the victims, so there is opportunity to demonstrate our humanity one to another. There is opportunity to reflect on a world that we all create everyday with each thought, word, and action. There is opportunity for all sane and civilized peoples to work together to end the scourge of terrorist violence wherever it occurs. It is justice we must seek, though, not revenge.

Finally, we have the opportunity to start seeing the other people we share this planet with, even those different from ourselves, as human beings just like us. The temptation to divide the world into “us” and “them” is the thinking that created justification in the minds of these terrorists for their acts. To the extent we have all perpetuated this concept of the world, we have all created a fertile field for the conflicts we continue to endure here on planet earth. No religion teaches nor accepts acts like we saw this week. Every religion, however, does teach us to love our fellow human beings. To the extent we fail in the latter, we can all expect more of the former.

Let’s not permit this horrendous tragedy to occur and these deaths to be meaningless. Let us commit, even as we seek justice for these crimes, to create a world where such acts are unthinkable ways of making a statement, even for the most radical among us. An event like this should fill us with hard questions, not easy answers. Let us rally around our flag to seek justice, not as means of supporting a response yet more fierce and destructive in nature. Blood for blood has never brought people anything but more blood. May these events lead us to a greater self-awareness and a more reflective, just world. In that way, we can honor the memory of those lost in New York and Washington D.C, and Pennsylvania.

Some may believe this to be an unattainable goal. One thing is for sure, as long as we believe it to be impossible it will be. Despite our best efforts, crazy people may persist, but as a civilization and as individuals we owe it to ourselves and our children to seek that kind of world. May those who have suffered loss, find solace in their faith and the people around them. May those who are responsible be brought to a civilized justice. May we all find peace in our hearts and greater peace in our world!

Published by

Ray Davis

I am the Founder of The Affirmation Spot, author of Annuanki Awakening, and co-founder of 6 Sense Media. My latest books are the Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation (Book 1 of a trilogy) and The Power to Be You: 417 Daily Thoughts and Affirmations for Empowerment. I have written prolifically on the topics of personal development and human potential for many years. By day, I write sales training for Fortune 100 company. I began studying affirmations and positive thinking after a life-threatening illness at 25. My thirst for self-improvement led him to read the writings of Joseph Campbell, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, and many other luminaries in the fields of mythology and motivation. Over time, I have melded these ideas into my own philosophy on self-development. I have written, recorded, and used affirmations and other tools throughout that time to improve my own life and I have a passion for helping other reach for their goals and dreams. Ray holds a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Secondary Education in Social Studies from University of Kansas. He lives in Framingham, MA with his wife and his black lab, Mia.

16 thoughts on “Eight Years….Has It Changed Us? – The Affirmation Spot for Friday September 11, 2009”

  1. If our enemies are broken to the point where the remnants left of them are incapable of harming us and all those who might support them are too terrified of our wrath, then we will have achieved a lasting peace.

    What you propose sounds more like what should be done after we have achieved peace.

    1. Peace will never come through violence. We’ve been at that game for 10,000 years of human history. We are reaching a point where we – all of us terrorists and superpowers alike – will get that or we destroy ourselves. It’s our choice.

      I will say this, though, and I’ve had this discussion many times. As long as we believe what you are saying, you’re right it will not happen. I’m not criticizing you because your feelings are the way most people respond to these things. We’ll never get where we want to go, if we don’t change our thoughts.

      The key is that it is and has been our (humanity’s) choice all along. We are capable of more and my commitment is to continue to advocate a different solution.

      Stay inspired!

      Ray

      1. Your idea only works if both sides adhere to it. In human history that has rarely happened until one side or the other of a conflict (often both sides) have broken in a manner similar to what I outlined.

        Keep dreaming though and please keep advocating. While, in the short term as history is measured, you’re doomed to failure, without ones such as yourself the long term switchover would not ever happen because that choice would have been forgotten.

      2. I appreciate your comments. They are thoughtful and I really understand them. HIstory was my field of study. I read it with a sober eye. The status quo has a tremendous amount of gravity and it takes a lot of effort to break free. I’m convinced that humans are an underachieving lot.

        We have the potential to change. I do think history is heading to a place where change or survival will become an absolutely clear choice. I think it is entirely logical that we choose it rather than having it forced upon by circumstances. I’m not disagreeing that we may not. Only saying we can.

        Here’s a thought, though. Are people like OBL really the only problem or do people like him simply provide cover for the rest of us not to have to change?

      3. I don’t see the choice you present in your question as being a valid choice. Are people like OBL really the problem? No; their foci for people’s response to a problem. That does presuppose that instead people like OBL are merely blinds for our cultural and philosophical inertia.

      4. It’s the “buy they….” argument. “I would change, but they won’t change. So I can’t (don’t have to). Even taking it down to the personal level, in far less life and death situations, people want to have a reason not to have to change something that is hard to change.

        Those of us in self-development are constantly battling to help people overcome that mindset. We look for reasons outside ourselves why the world is (or has to be) the way it is rather than realizing that change begins within us. That’s a powerful idea and maybe even more frightening than terrorists.

        This world I’m advocating is a hard, adult change. It’s easier to keep things the way they are and continue telling ourselves the comfortable stories that some “they” out there are why I won’t change.

      5. Here’s another thought though:

        Even if I forgive them, I’ll still kill them and destroy their infrastructure if I believe them to be a threat to those I defend. I might not enjoy doing so at that point, but that’s never stopped me before.

      6. I can see you are a person of conscience and so am I. Too often, we are set against each other by those promoting an “Us” vs. “Them” mentality – even domestically. I’m glad we are able to have this discussion. I would only point out again that 10,000 years of human history argues that the “kill them before they kill us” solution has failed.

        The bottleneck in the logic is that we only point the guns at those our leaders tell us are the threat. We can never truly know.

        Are you in a role where you have to do that?

      7. At one time, no longer. I suffered one injury too many and am now retired from service – though, if things got bad enough they’d recall me for cadre duty; we don’t have that many trained snipers.

      8. Well, I sincerely salute your service. In your way, as in mine, we are both trying to get to the same world. I think every soldier of conscience has that as his or her goal. We may not agree on the best way to get there. Glad we can agree on the goal. It may take people like both of us to get there.

  2. Hi, Ray!

    Another great post! I was in school when the horrific events of 9/11 took place and the school held an open discussion during one of the classes in a large auditorium – just to get people’s thoughts on what is happening. A lot of people were talking from the ‘us’ and ‘them’ standpoint, and one girl said exactly what you have pointed out – that ‘us’ and ‘them’ thinking is a big part of the problem.

    A good friend of mine has written an essay on the different levels of forgiveness. At the first level the victim sees himself or herself as a completely separate entity from the abuser. They see themselves as totally innocent and the abuser as completely guilty. And most of the people are at that level.

    Ray, you are at a different level of forgiveness, where you are beyond that perspective. And we do need more people with better level of understanding to have lasting peace. Unfortunately, most people feel like this stance is unrealistic. The paradox is that as long as people feel that way, the violence will continue.

    Blessings!

    V

    1. Thank you. You may be right. However, I know me very well. I’m not anything special (in that way). We are all capable of that level of forgiveness. There are just things we have to release to get there. My own personal journey probably created the perfect storm for me to understand that.

      I’d love to read your friend’s essay. Is there somewhere online I could access it?

      Stay inspired!

      Ray

      1. Ray,

        I did not mean that you are different from others. I agree that everyone is capable of the different levels of forgiveness.

        I can email the essay to you…just let me know where to send it to (I think you should have my email along with this reply).

        V

  3. Thank you.

    We do indeed agree on the goal. I’d give just about anything to create a world that held no place for me.

    If you think about it, up near the top of this thread, I too said it’ll take both people like both of us to get there. Me and mine to defend to the innocent and to make the “status quo” painful for the aggressors, and you and yours to offer an alternative.

    1. As you can tell from this blog, I am a big believer in affirmations. I have often shared this affirmation with people who express dislike for the military in general or troops in particular. It almost directly quotes you.

      Peace Affirmation: “I support the troops and honor their sacrifice, even I work tirelessly to create a world where they are unnecessary.”

      Military history was my primary area of study back in school. I particularly focused on WW II and US Civil War. While I’ve not kept up in the past 20 years, I read everything I could get my hands on about those two conflicts. My two favorite generals were Patton and Longstreet (There’s polar opposites for you). Used to be able to diagram The Battle of Gettysburg step by step….probably could not now.

      I have zero against the people following lawful orders. I think our heat and our focus needs to be on the decision-makers who decide when and where to use our might. Too often, it pursues their interests and not those of the people. My honest belief is that soldiers are – except in rare circumstances – Constitutionally obligated to follow orders. It is up the citizens in a free country to hold leaders accountable for their use of the military.

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