Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sticking to What You Know

[posted by Callimachus]

UPDATED: To correct the name of the author of the post and related pronouns.

Carol Gee reposts a piece she wrote in August 2005, after watching a documentary on the September 11 attacks, which she describes as "rather gut-wrenching."

After almost four years the facts and the terrorist characters are still horrifying. ... My eyes did not stay dry, my hands became moist, and my stomach churned. Terror works to create anxiety, unfortunately, even when it is only revisited on TV. Eventually, however, some people just shut down. But that is not a healthy psychological response.

That's the experience we all share, I think. In her next line, she asks "What can we ordinary Americans actually do about it; and what is IT?"

And that's where we head down completely different tracks.

I say that because I've read this post several times and Carol never does get back to the "it," to the "horrifying," to the tears and tension. She spends the rest of the post dealing with ... President Bush.

Which means her recommended response to 9/11, taking into account where the post starts and where it goes, are:

  • Work for empowerment

  • Share information

  • Hold government officials accountable

  • Live mindfully

As she notes, "courage is not about being unafraid, but about which direction one runs." In such cases, one who runs toward the fight, with the intent to join it and throw back the killers, might be judged more courageous than one who runs home and sticks his head in the sand of domestic political grumbles. To coin a phrase, "that is not a healthy psychological response."

"Iraq is training ground for terrorists happens to be one of my truths," she proclaims. That's great. And she's mighty exercised about how Dubya tricked us into overthrowing Saddam so that could happen. But if it's really one of her truths, shouldn't she be at least as concerned -- as measured by word count -- about devising or supporting a strategy to put a stop to that, as she is with putting the screws to Bush?

One would be hard-pressed to imagine any of the 9/11 killers being nonplussed by a strategy of "reading, listening, being online, and communicating with those in our circles, ... let[ting] elected officials know what we want them to do" and referencing "Michigan's courageous Democratic Representative John Conyers."

Then there's this:

If we only pay attention to our bodies and our minds as we decide what to do about it, we will neglect the third most powerful aspect of empowerment, that of spirituality. Prayer and meditation serve as ways of regaining internal peace. I was raised as a Christian, and have also found Eastern philosophies to be helpful. “Peace is Every Step”, by Thich Nhat Hanh is a good book, as is “Wherever You Go There You Are”, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

And here, again, Carol Gee and I agree. I, too, would recommend fighting terrorism with tomes by Buddhist monks. Especially if they're big, thick hardcover books that a whole first-class seating section can use to rush a boxcutter-wielding thug and beat him into bloody unconsciousness.

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