A spiritual anti-war stance
Sep 24, 2001 04:49 PM
De Profundis ...
by Willy Gommel
Given at Blue Star Memorial Temple, Halcyon, California
September 23, 2001
"De profundis clamabi ad te, Domine! Dona nobis pacem ..."
Thus reads a snippet from the Roman Catholic liturgy from which I
borrowed my title. At this time in American history, it seems more than
Approximately 292 hours and 50 minutes ago, life on Planet Earth
changed. Now, the presence of change is itself the only thing that will
never change; but this change was rather drastic and far more than usually
sudden, thanks to the playthings of the high-tech Information Age. It was
remarkably costly in a good many different ways ... and the appalling
monetary loss was probably the least of these. It was rude. It was crude.
And it was extremely effective, notwithstanding that it was only 75%
And what was that effect? At present, there is no clear or definite
... let alone final ... answer to that. Two hundred ninety-three hours is
not enough time for anything more than short-term effects of such mayhem to
manifest. About the long term, all we can say at present is that far more
profound change shall surely ensue ... abundantly if not profusely.
Officially, the United States of America has declared war on the rest
of the world. But it is not war as we have known war in the past. This is
not war upon a nation, but upon a human attitude ... a philosophical
viewpoint that is specifically designed to affect human beings and our life
experience. Is it religious? Indeed ... at least many times. Yet that is not
the point, because the religion cited does not condone the action done in
its name. Therefore, it is a question of non-academic philosophy.
Unofficially, one faction in the nation has declared war on another
part, which has declared peace on the rest of the world. Example works best
here: anyone recognizably Muslim or Arab has been at risk of the modern
equivalent of lynch mobs ... no matter that they were at least as appalled
over what was done in the name of their religion as those who call
themselves Christians. Perhaps the Christians forget the horrors committed
in their own name seven or eight centuries ago by those of equally extremist
viewpoints ... against the Muslims! At that time, I suspect, lack of our
technical trinkets saved us from retaliatory devastation.
Nor must we forget that there are "heartland" reactions as well. As a
nation, we feel challenged to determine how we wish to respond to all of
this. Naturally, the diversity of people composing the nation has given us a
predictable diversity of expressions. Some felt troubled; a good many lost
family members or dear friends in the maelstrom ... persons having qualities
that make most of us wonder "Why? Why him? Why her?" Ladies stormed, men
cried. Memories were brought up ... Vietnam, Pearl Harbor, FDR's "day that
shall live in infamy," Oklahoma City, on and on ... offered as parallels, as
metaphors of the Incomprehensible. Almost no one has been exempt: teenagers,
retirees, rich, poor, black, white, and everyone in between has been
affected, emotionally and to varying extents practically as well. The stuff
of blockbuster movies was upon us; but this time, it wasn't entertainment.
This time, someone really did drive airliners carrying some two-hundred-odd
human beings into the sides of massive buildings. America was shocked.
Looking over her shoulder (what was left of it), so was the world.
But there has been a brighter side, too. Those who, like me, use
e-mail would certainly bear out my observation that this reflector of human
cultures has exposed a rallying together in spirit. Oddly yet fittingly
enough, the first intimation of this was the collection of electronic
marvels by which we were so quickly informed: the media went into maximum
overdrive, giving us splendid coverage from many points of view 24/7 ... 24
hours a day for about a week. The heavy emphasis on personal reactions
served very much to tie the nation together just when one might think it
most likely to go the other way. At least in my experience, there was less
intrusion on victims' privacy, and more expression of thoughtful, benevolent
perspectives. What emerged was that most people cared. Albeit they had less
idea of what to do about any particular thing in the news, they were keeping
informed and, at the very least, wishing their circle, their state, and
their nation well in time of trouble. Consider these samples from my e-mail
The events of this day cause every thinking person to stop their daily
lives and to ponder deeply the larger questions of life. We search for not
only the meaning of life, but the purpose of our individual and collective
experience as we have created it-and we look earnestly for ways in which we
might recreate ourselves anew as a human species, so that we will never
treat each other this way again.
Our opportunity now is to demonstrate at the highest level our most
extraordinary thought about who we really are.
A central teaching of Conversations with God is: What you wish to
experience, provide for another.
Look to see, now, what it is you wish to experience in your own life
and in the world. Then see if there is another for whom you may be the
source of that.
If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.
If you wish to know that you are safe, cause another to know that they
If you wish to better understand seemingly incomprehensible things,
help another to better understand.
If you wish to heal your own sadness or anger, seek to heal the
sadness or anger of another.
Those others are waiting for you now. They are looking to you for
guidance, for help, for courage, for strength, for understanding, and for
assurance at this hour. Most of all, they are looking to you for love.
This is the moment of your ministry. This is the time of teaching.
What you teach at this time, through your every word and action right now,
will remain as indelible lessons in the hearts and minds of those whose
lives you touch, both now, and for years to come.
We will set the course for tomorrow, today. At this hour. In this
That one came from Neale Donald Walsch. Here are several others from a
mailing list service called "A Word a Day":
>From: Julia Lagoc, Philippines (firstname.lastname@example.org)
>Subject: A dastardly, cowardly act
I am deeply saddened by the tragedy that befell your country. I grieve
with the American people.
>From: Eric Shackle (email@example.com)
My wife and I watched with horror the CNN coverage of the New York and
Washington tragedies, until 1.30 am, went to bed, and awoke five hours later
to see the continuing drama unfolding. All Americans have our heartfelt
I think TV makes everyone realise the dreadful human toll of such
events. World Wars I and II would have ended a lot sooner had people at home
been able to see the horrendous effects close up, as we do today. Now we
realise what London and Hamburg (and later Hiroshima & Nagasaki) civilians
had to endure.
>Subject: Dear friends
I don't know what to say ... words don't come easy. Again and again I
am watching the terrible pictures on TV. Let me tell you that people here in
Germany are shocked. Be assured that our thoughts are with you! Our
solidarity goes out to you!
>From: Christa Steinmann (christa...firstname.lastname@example.org)
>Subject: From Switzerland
My thoughts and prayers are with the brave people of the United States
of America. The word `United' takes on new meaning.
>From: Lisa Pacitto (email@example.com)
>Subject: Tuesday's Tragedy
I am a freelance writer and love getting AWAD. As many activities have
come to a halt due to the devastating attack on the US, I commend AWAD for
carrying on, as we all must.
Given that AWAD does reach so many people around the world, and that
these events are a crime not only against America, but against all of
humanity and what we hold dear, I wonder if our collective interest in words
can be used to foster a collective interest in peace. I'd suggest that we
use AWAD as a forum for all AWAD subscribers around the world to talk about
these events, how they have effected all of us, and more importantly, how
each of us can grow and make a difference from this experience.
Change, and thus peace, does not come about by government policy,
weapons, treaties, or even hatred of war ... however noble. It comes from
seeking peace, putting our attention on peace, cultivating and demonstrating
peace. But what is peace?
An arrived at static state but will it magically cure all the world's
Peace is a choice ... a choice we make every day of how we will act
and react to our circumstances and the world around us. It is the
willingness to first and always seek understanding, to continually nurture
and be secure in our own compassion, and to purposefully use our God-given
intelligence and humanity to move toward that which we desire most ... Love
We have the power to change the world. Let's make that choice and
direct the change for peace.
I see a profound tendency developing here. It seems to be a spiritual
awakening. There are vibrations of a new militancy ... toward Love. There is
kindness being displayed among people who don't know each other. There
always has been, but now it is being done more consistently and more
In this building there was a meditation meeting ... a vigil of soul,
watching over the earth. In my experience, the noon service in this building
has taken on a new poignancy, a new relevance as the world, trying to
extract anything of true meaning out of the chaos, looks consciously or
unconsciously toward Higher Powers (again, the meaning of this term is as
varied as humanity itself) for reassurance that life has meaning after all.
People are thinking. People are watching each other. People are
looking at the leaders. I sense that we are vigilant about what are leaders
are leading us toward ... hoping against hope that it isn't merely more
bloodshed, more political games, more revenge. Many of us are horrified at
the possibility of the national response amounting to Hammurabi's justice
... yet this attack was not by a nation, but by individuals acting on their
own behalf, individually or as a relatively small group. We sense that the
term "justice" must entail something far more loving than "an eye for an eye
and a tooth for a tooth." We sense that this could too easily be turned into
an excuse for further erosion of human rights; we wonder why it seems so
difficult for our leaders to get the point that this is a marvelous
opportunity to develop new ways of living together. Hopefully, the few would
not feel so incredibly alienated as to feel the need to respond in this way
in numbers large enough to execute such a plan as the one recently
completed. Gold could rule ... that is, the golden rule, common to all
religions, is a very commonly-known approach to living which offers enormous
potential to spread harmony instead of discord, love instead of hate.
This is the Temple of the People. We are the Annunciator Movement. We
are a "John the Baptist Movement." What a great opportunity this is to
respond anew to that call!
Therefore, all of the foregoing said and essentially agreed with, I
want to share a perspective that I haven't heard from any other mouth as
yet. Everyone seems agreed that what happened 293 hours ago was pretty
negative. Now, we teach in these sacred precincts that everything negative
must have an equal and opposite positive side. Balance requires equality, in
one form or another, and I want to speak to the other side of the picture
for a moment.
Not that any sane person would suggest such methodology, but ...
Whoever did it did us a rather large favor. We have been reminded of
the importance of unity of spirit. We have confronted the fact that we are
people, not consuming machines. We have experienced a taste of renewal of
our sense of social responsibility.
We have rediscovered Love, and thus had an opportunity for a rare type
of spiritual rebirth.
We of the Temple of the People can hug those who grieve, comfort those
who mourn, hold out a hand of understanding to those who feel confused.
We can act from our consciousness of the power of the moment. We can
realign our motives accordingly. Thus we bear witness to the truth. Thus we
bear Witness to Truth. Thus Truth can ring forth in greater apparent power.
Last night, yet another e-mail came my way, and I would like to close
Please lend your support to this petition ...
Dear Mr. President:
We the undersigned are writing to you at this moment to express our
profound sadness at the events of September 11th, and to plead with you and
those making the very difficult decisions which have to be made at this time
for calm and a non-retaliatory stance.
We have all been deeply affected by this tragedy and our hearts and
sympathies go to all those who died and to the loved ones they left behind.
In the wake of this event there is shock and sadness, and emotions run
very high. It is human to want to respond quickly, to find those responsible
and ensure that this cannot happen again anywhere. However, retaliating with
more violence only breeds more violence and ensures that future generations
will live in fear with mistrust and suffering.
We urge you and our fellow citizens to remember that vengeance offers
no relief, that retaliation can never guarantee healing and that to meet
violence with violence breeds more rage and more senseless deaths. Only love
leads to peace with justice.
We believe it is our duty as a civilized nation to rise above the
desire for retaliation and to find a way of dealing with this tragedy that
is peaceful and good. We do not ask that we ignore that this happened or
that those who are responsible not be held accountable. Rather we ask that
we lead the world as an example of another way, a better way for all
Further violence and the deaths of more innocent people will not
resolve this situation or ensure the safety of future generations. This is
truly an opportunity to show the world that leadership is earned, not
imposed through violence and bullying tactics. Please Mr. President, give us
all hope for a future where good will truly prevail over evil, and where
violence has no place. Our goal should be to build bridges of love, respect
and understanding among all people. This is the only way to ensure that the
tragedy of September 11th and similar tragedies around the world do not
September 23, 2001
Blue Star Memorial Temple
Please address inquiries to:
The Temple of the People
P.O. Box 7100
Halcyon, California 93421
Telephone: (805) 489-2822
Fax: (805) 481-9446
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