September 18th 2001
We are all New Yorkers. That is the gist of the message that I have been
receiving from the thousands of e-mails, countless phone calls and faxes,
and communications from people writing or calling me from over 30
countries. The outpouring of love, of service, and even of life itself is
the miracle of humanity surpassing itself. All over this country and
throughout the world people are affirming their unity with us, and more, the
unity of all people. This tragedy brings us together in shadow and in
light, for richer and for poor, in sickness and in health for as long as we
all shall live. The desecration that occurred is also the announcement of a
potential global union.
I have often spoken of how technology and the internet gave us the world
mind taking a walk with itself. But in the light of the events of September
11th, we now must speak of the world heart, the world stomach, the world
spirit. America is not longer insulated from the pathos of other nations.
We are present at the birth of an opportunity that exceeds our imagination.
Christopher Fry writes, "Thank God, our time is now, when wrong comes up to
meet us everywhere, never to leave us till we take the longest stride of
soul men ever took." All oppression rises in our time, all shadows, all
terrors, and factors unique in human history also arise around us to
compound our folly and confuse our desire. We yearn for meaning and deal
with trivia. We are swept in currents over which we have no control.
Government has become too big for the small problems of life and too small
in spirit for the large problems. The tyranny that threatens to destroy us
is not just terrorism; it is the tyranny of the unjust demands we have made
of Nature and the tyranny of some nations being kept in economic slavery by
We are the ones who have the most profound task in human history--the task
of deciding whether we grow or die. This will involve helping cultures and
organizations to move from dominance by one economic culture or group to
circular investedness, sharing and partnership. It will involve putting
economics back as a satellite to the soul of culture rather than having the
soul of culture as satellite to economics. It will involve deep listening
past the arias and the habits of cruelty of crushed and humiliated people.
It will involve a stride of soul that will challenge the very canons of our
human condition. It will require that we become evolutionary partners with
This is a huge test we find ourselves in. We have newly emerged from a
century of war and holocaust. Our hopes for the new century, the new
millennium, were for a new way of being, between nations and people, between
the earth and ourselves, between spirit and matter. Those hopes still
live, if anything, they have become more powerful, more necessary. For
America it will mean a deep shift of our attitudes to other cultures around
the world to one of service and support rather than exploitation and
dominance. Yes, the perpetrators have to be found and dealt with through
therapeutic law and international justice. They are not a nation, they are
a cancer, and a cancer is rarely removed through a cycle of violence.
Rather, as in holistic medicine, they have to be subdued by the
strengthening of the healthy immune system, the envisioning of the pattern
of health, and yes, the removal of the cancer wherever it can be excised.
The metaphor is apt. Our health, our security, is built on friendship.
Instead of spending so many billions for weapons of destruction (which we
manufacture ourselves and sell globally), what if we were to use some of
those billions to the feeding of the hungry (one in every three persons),
the housing of the homeless, the making of those efforts that can result in
the healing of the wounds of nations. Real security demands real
friendship, global marriage. As one of my correspondents brilliantly
addressed these issues, "The problem is not just terrorism. The problem is
generations of beings who experience not having an identity. The question
is what made human beings incapable of feeling love, compassion or empathy
towards themselves or anyone else, and thereby, becoming destroyers of their
own species? What happened that human beings could become so
psychologically, emotionally and spiritually distorted that they could
believe that Islam, one of the most spiritual paths in the world, could
encourage murder and suicide to gain heavenly reward?"
Friends, these are not Muslims. These are marginalized fanatics who have
made a travesty of their faith. The issue is how we can join together to
create a world in which such pathology will no longer be nurtured.
Many of us are feeling impotent before the enormity of the prospect. Some
of you, I know, have experienced "meltdown," some have seen visions, had
dreams. Many have had the portals of their minds blown open to deeper
realities, potent reflections. Tragedy has drawn us closer, sent us deeper,
and given us the option of preparing for life rather than death.
I have been considering some of the things that you may wish to do in the
days and weeks to come that will give expression to your feelings and need
to act. What I offer below is drawn primarily from my own reflections as
well as others, particularly some prescriptions offered by Yes! magazine.
1. In these spirit quaking times, align with your own spiritual resources.
Take time to meditate, pray, reflect in solitude and in nature. Allow
yourself daily time and space to be re-sourced. Consider living daily life
as spiritual exercise. Watch your finer intuitions and ideas, and share them
with others. Commune with your spiritual allies, archetypal friends,
quantum partners. In the place of spiritual connection feel strength and
compassion and intelligence flow. Become creative in your actions. Plot
scenarios of optimal healing and begin wherever you can to put them in place
for events as well as people. Practice miracle management.
2. Give yourself vacations from television. So much of it anyway is
infomercials for war.(However the local New York City stations are filled
with human stories of compassion and courage.) But do listen occasionally
to talk shows and call in with your own opinions and ideas for making a
better world. Write that letter to the editor. Write or call your
congressman and local government officials. Handwritten faxes seem to be
the things that are most likely to get through, followed by phone calls.
E-mails, alas are the least likely. You can find your U.S. representatives
at www.house.gov or for Senators, www.senate.gov.
Above all, Let Your Voice Be Heard!
3. Gather in groups and, if possible in ongoing teaching-learning
communities of wisdom and empowerment. But let everyone speak, and do not
deny them the authenticity of their feelings even if they diverge widely
from your own.
4. Talk to the kids, your own or other people's children. Let them express
their feelings, tell you what is on their minds. Give them a grasp of the
larger issues at hand. Tell them about mercy and compassionate action. If
possible engage them in service oriented activities. Let them see the larger
5. Show up at town meetings, or other places where people meet to pray and
talk and engage each other. Sign petitions if you are willing and join in
other activities that are "sending a big message." Have vision circles to
put forth images of what the world can be. Envision the possible society
together. (For ideas, you might want to look at my book, authored with
Margaret Rubin, Manual of the Peacemaker, which deals with the Iroquois
creation of a better society.)
6. Get thee to a mosque! Give support and compassion to Arab friends,
colleagues, or people you happen to meet of middle eastern origin. Stamp
out hatred and fear surrounding these people wherever you can. Let them
tell their stories, their hopes and dreams. In fact, try and learn as much
as you can about the Middle East, the political situations there, as well as
the teachings of Islam. For key information on the crisis and well
considered information and opinions about the Middle East you may want to go
to Alternet.org and commondreams.org.
7. Give up your own holding patterns on your old self. This is the time to
become or at least to enact the possible human. Let your senses take
pleasure in the glory of this world. Let your heart celebrate the
incredible gift of life. And share this with others.
I live in a double domed house that was the last design of my old friend
Buckminster Fuller, completed just before he died. I asked my house what
words it would give you and it responded with Bucky's own. They came out of
a time of tremendous personal crisis in his life.
"So I vowed to keep myself alive, but only if I would never use me again for
just me - each one of us is born of two, and we really belong to each other.
I vowed to do my own thinking, instead of trying to accommodate everyone
else's opinion, credos and theories. I vowed to apply my own inventory of
experiences to the solving of problems that affect everyone aboard planet
Much Love and High Regard,