David Spangler, spiritual teacher and long-time friend and mentor of Findhorn, responds to the recent terrorist attacks….
Friday night’s attacks in Paris were the latest in a string of terrorist acts that began on Halloween with the bombing of the Russian plane in Egypt that killed all 224 people on board and includes the suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, two days ago in which 37 people died and 187 were wounded. In the Talmud, it says that “whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world,” which means that in the past two weeks nearly 400 worlds came to an end because of these three terrorist attacks.
These are horrible crimes perpetrated against innocents, and as the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, the Islamic State will bear consequences for these acts. These deaths will now be seen as casualties in the “global war on terror” in which rogue states, cultivating what the Vatican has called “homicidal hatred,” are locked in combat with those whose ways of life do not conform to their restricted vision.
This is true. If it were not for the many different terrorist organizations now active in the world, these 400 people would still be alive, and an even greater number of wounded from the past three attacks would be whole and healthy. But from a larger perspective, these casualties join millions of others who have died because of a World War that has been ongoing for millennia. In some ways, this is the true First World War; even more, it is the only World War in which all the conflicts in human history can be seen as manifestations.
This is a world war of fear and intolerance, a power struggle for a dominance that will allow us the illusion of feeling safe and in control, a war against that which is different from ourselves, a war based on an inability or an unwillingness to recognize the connections that unite us, that weave us into a mosaic of wholeness. It’s a war that we wage within ourselves in fits of self-loathing, a war we wage against others who scare us or who dare to see the world and to believe differently from how we do, a war we wage against nature because we do not appreciate how fully and inextricably we are part of that nature or the ways in which the world is our ally and not our enemy to be pillaged.
This is a war waged in households and neighborhoods as well as across national boundaries or in the trenches of ecological disruption. It is a war in which we are each a combatant…unless and until we refuse to be and stand instead in our wholeness and connectedness, with a willingness to understand at least, if not actually appreciate and honor, the differences arising from our individuality and personhood.
It’s a war that millions have opted out of over the millennia, seeking instead pathways of communication, communion, and compassion. It’s also a war that’s easy to slip into. In our homes, in our workplaces, in our sports and recreations, we can find ourselves suddenly fighting that which is different, that which we don’t understand, that which we think threatens us, that which is “not us.” The fight may not at all be physical; it may be mental, it may be emotional, it may be conducted in secret and in silence, but its effects will nonetheless in some way manifest as a loss of connection, a loss of communication, a loss of mutual respect and goodwill.
I’m sorry to say it, but I’m sure the attacks in Paris, Beirut, or Egypt in the last two weeks will not be the last we shall face, and I am sure there will be increasing retribution and conflict against the terrorist organizations. The original — and only — World War will continue, for the will and the understanding, the love and the courage are not yet there in humanity as a whole to stop it.
But each of us as individuals can stop it. We can turn our lives into an ongoing peace treaty, a source of love, understanding, and compassion for the other. The ability to step out of the battle is there in each of us as an essential part of our human wholeness. To do so, we need to filter out the fear that so often is the underlying force fueling this ancient war as it divides us from the world around us. This is not always easy as so much of the information and energy we get from our media reinforces this fear in one way or another. But it can be done, and we can lovingly and courageously help each other in doing it. And even as we take steps to prevent “them” from hurting “us” — or “us” from hurting “them” — at some point if we want to stop this war, we have to move beyond thinking in terms of “us vs them” and take steps to make reconciliation and collaboration a reality in our world. Naïve? In today’s world, probably, but if we want to have a world tomorrow, we nevertheless need to discover and apply the wisdom and courage that seem to wear naivety’s mask.
Definitely, let us pray and send blessings and healing to the recent victims of terror. Our hearts ache for their losses and for the lives no longer with us, making their unique contributions to the world. After last Friday, the people of Beirut, and after last night, the people of Paris, need our solidarity. We can send them the Light of our souls and of our sacredness to kindle and strengthen their own inner Light. But at the same time, all people everywhere need this solidarity and Light as well, need our prayers and blessings, for in the long run, we are all casualties of the one and only World War — and we are all of us the ones who can finally bring it to an end, first in our own hearts and then in the world.