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TO SEE WITH ONE EYE:
A CALL TO ACTION BEYOND POLARIZED TIMES
By Rebecca Browning
Events continue on since 9/11. The twin towers of polarized thinking can
no longer stand up under the pressure of honest reflection of self and
other and world. It has become both too easy and yet impossible to say
that this or that is the only right or the only wrong way to see or do
It is so essential to remember in these times that, while there are universal
truths when seen through the eyes of the divine, truth is more relative
to the beholder when the eyes are human. We must remember that few of
us on any given day maintain the vision of the one over the vision of
the other. We have to be patient with ourselves. But, how hard it is to
be patient when our own nation seems to betray its own higher principles.
When nations are rendered apparently powerless, voiceless and desperate,
they take desperate measures. If given the opportunity, they will do all
that they can to render powerless that which they believe has overpowered
them--even if they are mistaken as to just who or what has done them wrong?
As nations, we demand an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But with
the weapons of destruction as absolute as they are today, how much further
can we go until there are no teeth and there are no eyes left to demand?
So, how do we ensure that the US-lead response to terrorism does not degenerate
into a worldwide struggle that leaves us cast in the image of the very
darkness we must oppose? Do we become terrorists to fight terrorism; fundamentalists
to fight fundamentalism; or become ourselves imprisoned by the very measures
we take to protect our liberty? Are there alternatives to redress the
wrongs done to us or must we always fight fire with fire? When do we--can
we--turn the other cheek?
These are the questions and the times that try men's souls and tried they
must be--but not in the military tribunal of conventional truisms based
on the laws of petty minds and fear. We have always been far too willing
to sacrifice higher ideals for security, wealth or power; far too willing
to turn our backs on national and global abuses rather than risk loosing
any comforts secured by denial. This is what has gotten us into such compromising
positions in the first place with the likes of an Osama bin Laden, as
we've dallied with one petty tyrant after another around the world. Now,
the costs of our denial are unsustainable. We must have the courage as
a nation to stand for our higher principles no matter how vulnerable to
attack or loss that makes us.
But a nation has only as much courage and allegiance to higher principles
as its own people have. It takes time for a culture to evolve to its highest
potential, just as it takes time for an individual soul. Until larger
numbers of us see as if with one eye beyond the polarization and into
the sacredness of all being, how can we expect nations-- our own or others--
to see from the place of universal truth in times of such great threat?
Until enough of us have the courage to stand for our higher principles
without becoming that which we oppose, how can we expect our nation or
others to do so?
This nation was infused with Puritanism from its very start, even as its
adherents themselves sought religious freedom. We have suffered waves
of McCarthy-like suppression throughout our history and we will suffer
them again and again until we are no longer afraid of diverse perspectives
or of others' judgements of our own. Freedom, civil liberties, higher
ideals can be lost in a minute to the twin accomplices of cowardice and
abusive power. Human rights have been lost, over and over again in this
century, in one country after another, while the rest of us looked the
other way because it was not convenient to take action. Life is not convenient.
Yet what stands should be taken when there is nothing simple about the
events of the world today? There are paradoxes, mirrors, and shadows aplenty
and, as the righteous battle the righteous, opposites flow into and out
of one another, at times becoming more like one another than opposed.
We can only now hope that the very complexity of our times provides us
with the creative matrix for the maturation of our world culture into
a new culture able to go beyond the mudslinging of shame and blame, tit
for tat and right and wrong of schoolyard politics. It takes courage to
admit ones mistakes as an individual and as a nation. It takes courage
to stand for your truth, as well. But, only when adversaries can stop
to reflect that truth can be found in all perspectives, just as easily
as error, can they come together to resolve conflicts in a peaceable way.
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