How best to fight against the terrorist mentality that created 9-11? First step: universal love and welcoming a mosque at Ground Zero
BY DAVID RICKEY — The recent spate of anger that has arisen over the proposal to build a Mosque within blocks of the former site of the World Trade Center is, I suspect, an example of the very issues that brought about that terrible event we call “9/11″.
On a simple level it is lack of tolerance and the resulting unwillingness to listen deeply to others whom we don’t understand. The terrorist attack so threatened our sense of security that we have erected even taller barriers around our minds and hearts with the intention of protecting ourselves from any further threat. What we don’t understand is that those barriers were, in a deep way, the cause of the attack in the first place.
Shortly after the original 9/11, many people asked, “Why do people hate us so much?”, but few were willing to truly explore that question. Instead, superficial answers like, “They hate our way of life” or “They are jealous” emerged as final answers. And furthermore, these answers elevated the sense of superiority of “our way of life” so that we could not see the value of another’s way of life.
Rules for Islam…rules for the rest of “us”
This lead us to embrace these biases to demonstrate to our waiting minds just how awful and backward Islam is. Ignoring similar statements in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, we highlighted passages in the Koran that seem to support terrorism, Jihad and all manner of hostility towards other religions.
“Infidel”, which really just means “unbeliever”, was heard as the label put on us, to justify their actions. In contrast, consider, for example, the passages in the book of Exodus gloating over the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, or any of the numerous “triumphs” over “our enemies”.
We who claim to be Christian know that these passages don’t sum up our sacred teachings. And yet we are so quick to accept that similar passages in the Koran are the sum and substance of Islam.
Terrorism is the radical expression of hatred, but where does that hatred come from? In the case of Afghanistan, Iran, or even Pakistani communities in England, it is primarily a result of systematic oppression of groups of people by other countries or economic powers.
The United States and other “Enlightened” countries have, for centuries, seen the Middle East, and other regions, not as locations of gathered human beings who deserve the same freedoms and benefits we have gained, but rather as sources of raw materials and cheap labor to enhance our own way of life.
The Crusades were less about re-establishing Christianity in the Persian Empire than dealing with the threat of rising economic and military power in a region that was so pivotal to our economic growth. Our concern in the Middle East is, primarily, the stability of countries who possess much of the resources we depend on. We’re not terribly interested in their economic growth.
Now, this is becoming a political essay on a spiritual website.
Looking at this issue through a spiritual lense
All great spiritual paths state that compassion is the touchstone of true religion. But all spiritual expressions are human attempts to connect to and live by a deep, universally, perceived mystery.
The trouble is, the mystery is always filtered through our awareness, and for all but the most enlightened sages, our awareness is colored and distorted by our egos. God becomes, for most of us, a projection of our own needs. We put masks on God that express our fears and ego-driven hopes.
God becomes “Our God” and serves us. The truth of others’ awareness, especially if it challenges our primacy before this universal power, cannot be allowed to emerge. God is to serve us! This world, even the parts that belong to others, are expected to serve us as well. Hence we attack any who get in our way.
Any surprise, then, that they do the same thing? How many dictatorships around the world have we supported because they ensured our access to cheap labor and raw materials — Haiti, Central America, to name a few.
The reality of American Islam is one of peaceful, compassionate, socially beneficial spiritual teaching. Indeed Mohammad himself, peace be upon him, intended to create a compassionate community — Umam — of mutual caring out of disparate bands of marauding nomads.
By allowing, even encouraging, the building of a Mosque in lower Manhattan, we can demonstrate the very values that call out against the terrorist activities that resulted in 9/11. The peace and mutual respect this would express would signal a shift and undermine the argument used by terrorists to justify their actions. Indeed, the hostility the proposed construction has generated only serves to reinforce the stereotype that exists in their minds.
We all need to search within ourselves and find the sources of the masks we have used to hide God’s true appearance. The shift would be to stop making God in our image and start letting this amazing mystery many of us call God emerge as our true face: True, universal love and compassion, deep and unlimited wisdom and possibility.
The time has come, and the events of the world cry out for this next step in our evolution.
Read David’s previous articles for Soul’s Code: You, powered by God to heal the world and Church for the 21st century: an oral and aural buffet we can all savor. Follow David on Twitter.
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