If It’s Appropriate It’s Right

eric-allen-bell-reflections-on-the-age-of-anxietyWe’re not one big happy family. But everyone around you is in some way your relative. We share the same DNA. We all originated from the same place. In a vast dark universe, we share the same tiny blue reflection of light. We breathe the same air. We all bleed the same color.

It is as natural for us to cooperate as it is to compete. We are complex beings, and getting along is not always easy. In fact, getting along is not always possible. We inherit a legacy that is both positive and negative. We have learned how to survive together and climb to the top of the food chain. And often we have fought each other in order to do so.

Perhaps more than any other chapter in history, the last hundred years or so showed us how incredibly intelligent we can be. We have glimpsed just a flash of our collective potential. We have cured diseases. We have learned to fly, even to put a man on the moon. We have constructed great societies. And we have also seen our darkest side. Two world wars killed countless millions of people. We have seen some of our best and brightest leaders gunned down and taken from us. We have watched followers of Muhammad fly airplanes into buildings. We have looked at our world and seen our best and our worst.

It would be hard to call our fear of each other irrational. Sometimes this fear is very rational. It would be even harder to look within and to confront the fear of our own selves. So much of who we are, as individuals, often frightens us. We live in an age of anxiety – an anxiety that is stimulated and stirred daily by the powerful forces of mass communication. And in the noise of all that mass communication, too often there is very little communication going on at all. Our house is not in order, and it has been said that a house divided will fall.

When I walk down the street I see people who are different from me. Some of them talk differently, some of them dress differently, some of them believe in things that just seem crazy to me. And I am often tempted to think I am somehow different, or better. And sometimes my words and my conduct are better. But when I use that to hate, I just add to the noise.

Every single one of us are part of the same species. Our global society as well as our local communities are in fact a collaboration. We’re all in this together. It’s easier to believe otherwise, but it isn’t true. Separation is a trick of the mind when we operate from a place of fear. And we all do it. Maybe our brain-body organisms have been wired this way so that we could survive to make it to this point. And maybe it is time to transcend, to feel more than knee-jerk reactions and to see more – more than what we are seeing now.

Here is an idea to consider: Your neighbor, the one you really don’t like, may be the most important teacher you will ever have. They may be teaching how to hate their conduct without hating the person. If you disagree with that statement, move somewhere else and you will find another version of that same dreaded neighbor living right down the street, or in the office next to yours, or as the parent of your child’s best friend. You almost have to wonder if there is something karmically perfect about how it is all constructed – as if a Divine force, with a sense of poetry and a sense of humor put it all together. Everywhere you go, there they are again.

I feel that separateness is ultimately a complete illusion. And thank God, because being all alone is just no fun. And being with only people who are exactly just like me just gets dull after a while. If we want to hang on to what is good in this world, we must recognize that absolutely everything that is positive is the result of relationships with other human beings. If you really let it in, it becomes plain to see that we are all in fact a family – a dysfunctional one perhaps, but a family nonetheless.

What if, over the next hundred years, we learned from the past hundred years? I’m not saying that we don’t need to defend ourselves from those among us who would seek to blow themselves up or blow us up. There is real danger in the world. But when I think about the 7 billion people who currently occupy this planet, I also see that there is so much love – and there is room for more, even as fear grows at the same time. It is maintaining that balance that keeps putting the cuckoo clock back together. But what if we were able to tilt that balance? What if love had just a little more market share? What kind of trajectory would that put us on, collectively and as individuals?

What makes a family strong is that one thing that often seems most impossible and that is love. We don’t have to like who someone is being, but can we find love in our hearts? When we tune into a sense of love, there is no telling what we can do – even when there are people in our family whom we must love but at a distance or for whom we can only express tough love.

I see how horribly we have treated each other in this world and I feel like we can do better.  Until then, we do what we can. Until then, it is said that “People Sleep Peacefully in Their Beds at Night Only Because Rough Men Stand Ready to Do Violence on Their Behalf”.

Here is a passage from a familiar bit of old literature:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

   a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

   a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
  a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
  a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
  a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

  a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Clearly we are in a time of war. And I feel that if something is appropriate, it is right. Even if the human race is a family, sometimes in a family there are those who are so abusive that the others must be protected from them. When I think of this it makes me angry. But behind that anger, there is just sadness. Deep sadness. Impossible grief. But I will pick up my sword, or my pen and I will fight, when it is time to fight. And it is time to fight.

I will not let that sadness make me weak, but I will not let that sadness make me numb either.

What does one do with this sadness? I could make believe that I live in the world the way I want it to be, but I tried that already and reality woke me from that dream. I could get angry and cynical and learn to hate, but hatred will rot the soul from the inside. So instead I just surrender and I let my heart break.

And when I hear the battle cry I will rise up and I will go to war – whatever form that may require. I do not advocate engaging in hate crimes or vandalism. The Western World, the Civilized World, has entire armies already in place to protect us, if only we can mobilize our people, to call upon our governments, to finally use that force, before it is too late.

I know that the time for peace is always right here, right now, inside of me, always. Inner peace cannot be threatened by the outside world. We find that inner peace is our true nature, when we are willing to stop looking outside our self to find it.

But in the outside world, our children must be protected from enemies who threaten our civilized way of life, for our present day and our future generations. The future and Political Islam cannot coexist.

Good People Sleep Peacefully in Their Beds at Night Only Because Rough Men Stand Ready to Do Violence on Their Behalf…





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