The essence of control is fear
There is only one thing truly worth remembering about the attack on the WTC, because that one thing uncovers the true hidden nature of humanity. Before the Twin Towers crumbled, those buildings let out one great sigh, one great "I love you", then the lives that spoke it were crushed beneath burning rubble. Perhaps for the first time in human history we have direct evidence of the last thoughts to occupy a human mind before the solitary experience of individual death. The ultimate act of thousands of humans who knew they were about to die was to call wives, husbands, lovers, mothers, fathers, and friends to tell them "I love you". No different were the people who jumped from the towers holding hands. Not blame, not revenge, love. This is the only real event to have occurred on September 11th. Meditate on this and much of the truth of who we are is immediately apparent. Meditate on the catalogue of abuses which caused this event, and the astonishing speed with which the meaning of these tragic deaths was appropriated, was used to shore up the power and wealth of the regimes that had caused it, to undermine civil liberties, and to push a foreign policy and economic agenda some call the New World Order and others McWorld, and the immense sorrow of how deeply we are capable of losing our way as a species is presented with astonishing and horrifying clarity. Crying was the only sane reaction the author of these lines could come up with at the time.
BLAME, RESPONSIBILITY AND SOME FORBIDDEN WORDS
Humans are incredibly good, when faced with things going wrong, and rather than get together, sit down, and try and sort it out, at running around shouting and pointing and looking for someone to blame, and once a suitable or convenient victim is available, make its' life a misery, or generally kill it. The wise know that this is usually a sign of self-blame denial, blame transference, and other forms of responsibility avoidance. Of course, the wise rarely mention this to anyone else, since they have no interest in being beaten to death in pubs, or lynched on the street.
Responsibility is one of the forbidden words. Everywhere humans blame each other for what are essentially the symptoms of an unnatural separation in their own minds. This is all part of the same concealment process. We mistake historical events, like September 11th, for causes. There are many other forbidden words. One easy one is "Why?" No intelligent person will have failed to notice this question was never properly asked, never mind answered, in the media and political flurry after September the 11th. No one has really pursued to its ultimate conclusions the question of why this event happened, of what could possibly have caused the enormous hatred of the Western world that itself caused the cold and deliberate horror of that terrorist attack.
Many other words have been shamelessly abused. America was attacked because its' Freedom was hated by Evil people. The utter hypocrisy with which the simplistic task of assigning blame has been conducted should be painfully obvious.
Let us examine three propositions, the first of which is no one was responsible. This seems obviously nonsensical, we in the West believe in Freedom of the individual, and for there to be no one responsible then people's actions would have to be totally outside their personal control. However when we consider the proposition "someone was responsible" we also run into many absurdities. We seem to have a group of terrorists who have blown themselves up with the WTC. Obvious choice, but of no use in the blame process since already dead. Luckily we have a terrorist organisation, and amazingly this organisation has a charismatic leader, who fits perfectly into the role of "The Evil One".
So we have our culprits. In fact at the time of writing Kabul has fallen and the noose tightens around Bin Laden. More amusingly, the Afghans are turning to the Western powers and, with a grin, politely saying, "Well, thanks very much for that bombing, but would you mind awfully getting the fuck out of our country?"
To most sane people, a small nagging doubt may remain: surely, none of this answers the question "Why?" Which most people can be excused for thinking is quite important really, I mean, if it's likely that some people out there are going to be trying to blow up, us in general, or possibly by accident me in particular, I want to know why, don't you? Maybe that would help us work out how we could make them stop.
We have our culprits, and yet even if we track down and crush the entire network, we will have done to prevent any of it happening again. We will have once again attacked the symptoms, leaving the causes to fester.
If you have been nodding and agreeing with this you are very wrong. That's official. Our glorious leaders have suggested in the media, that to seek causes is to seek to excuse the terrorists. Don't worry, you are not a very bad person, just mistaken. What happened was, these people hated our Western Freedom, so they attacked us, because, wait, this the clincher, you see, they are Evil, oh, and they don't like girls either. Some of them eat babies, we have proof we can't show you. Is that enough demonisation for you? There you go, "Who wants to be a Millionaire" is on now, so? Do you feel better now?
As the comedian Mark Thomas pointed out, to tell us not to think about why the terrorists chose to blow up the WTC, and to just be content with the explanation "They did it because they are Evil" is like telling a doctor not to worry about the causes of his patient's symptoms, because the cause is obviously evil demons. Then again it is so easy to forget war is a matter of government policy, not conscience. Indeed, the word Evil is much abused.
We blame to avoid responsibility. Our governments blame to avoid responsibility for their actions. We blame, so as to avoid feeling responsible for our governments' actions. There can be no notion of democracy without the people being responsible for the actions of their government. Otherwise democracy has no foundation. We did or did not elect them. In recent cases mainly didn't. Yet all of us who did not vote, or do not participate in politics, are accomplices by omission in the crimes of our leaders (except me, I was out shopping). By that argument, everyone, including the victims of the WTC attacks, was responsible. That does not mean that anyone was to blame.
Yes, where indeed is the word "love" in all that has happened
recently? That is a good question. I suppose it is inevitable that
emotions are running high in all directions, but the "demonising" language
is to me very worrying. What about the "American fundamentalism" in the talk
from Bush about "destroying all evil"?
It seems to me that all sides in these events are part of a single process
- the "evil terrorists" and the "war against terrorism". Both sides share
in the same blindness, in the same fantasizing of "The Enemy", the same
illusions that they have "God on their side" and so on and so on…
It seems to me that all sides are absorbed in illusion, in a fantasy about
life and the world - and both in the same illusion, which is why they are
polarized. Born in a different country, Bush would be a fundamentalist
terrorist, and the terrorists if born in the USA would be in the Bush war
cabinet. Its all accident, which side each individual is on.
We are all caught in an illusion about the world, an illusion that creates a false separation within our minds between "us" and "them". Which leads us to ignore our common humanity and reduce each other to labels. Blame is all part of this false understanding.
The problem perhaps centres on the false idea the populations of the West have been sold as Freedom. This other abused word, Freedom, which the terrorists so envy and hate, which they seek to destroy bloodily. Yet it is a false freedom we are given. It is simply the freedom to be irresponsible. This deified individualism, revolves around the endless selfish dance of self-gratification. This consumer society keeps us as children, spoilt teenagers, for whom freedom is to have all the toys they want, no matter what the cost to others, and no matter what it does to our now visibly suffering planet. Is this not a negation of life, the universe, and human potential? Is this not simply a selfish escape from responsibility to doing the Good? Where does this leave everyone else, freeman? Is this freedom?
Is not freedom total autonomy, to be able to stand fully on one's feet, alone if necessary, and never to bend at the knees (except maybe when proposing marriage)? How can this be possible without simultaneously caring for everything? We are not isolated individuals, impregnable island, or every action affects the entirety of the universe and its future. How can Freedom truly exist without absolute responsibility, the feeling of responsibility towards everything? How different this is from the childish freedom of the Western individual. Is not the ultimately responsible human, the one who sacrifices his life, not just for a friend, but for a total stranger? In the whole of the events around the collapse of the Twin Towers, were not the people we all truly admired the firemen and police officers who rushed to their deaths in their attempts to save lives? Where did such bravery stem, if not also from love?
It is incredible to think that going to work at a shit job every day, to feed your children, is not celebrated and rewarded, when it is one of the greatest acts of sanity, responsibility (not to mention love) most people on this planet manage to display. It sometimes seems like the medals and pay-bonuses are very badly distributed.
How far these notions of Freedom and Responsibility are from the blame, hatred and war, which have unfolded since September 11th.
There is one final really, really, very forbidden word, and that is forgiveness.
What we have, however, is plenty of hate.
UNITY IS THE CELEBRATION OF DIVERSITY
So I say it is time for idealists to wake up and stop dreaming that you
have no ordinary responsibilities towards your fellow human beings.
It is time to stop indulging yourselves and start thinking of others as
real human beings. The present situation with terrorism is rooted
in idealism divorced from reality, from truth, from responsibility.
It is time to wake up to the fact that there is no evil conspiracy happening in America, that
neither Bush nor Blair are carrying out some hidden agenda, but are doing
what they feel responsible to do. They may or may not be misguided,
but they do not have any evil intent or hidden motives.
The idea that the world leaders have hidden motives springs from the
illusion that half the human race is in a conspiracy against the other
Actually, it would be more realistic to state that even if some individuals, or
groups of individuals, are involved in a conspiracy, or think they are in a
conspiracy to run the world, this changes nothing from the perspective of this
piece. What we are concerned with here are the root causes of dramatic events
like September the 11th. We are not concerned with hypothetical conspiracies by
world leaders to set their power in stone once and for all, by causing a
terrorist attack on their own people and manipulating media and opinion to
allow themselves to pursue their agenda unhindered. Whether or not this is true
is a distraction from the real problem, the root of which lies firmly in all
our heads. Such conspiring leaders would by this argument simply be the
ultimate expression of an utterly deluded soul, suffering from the same
sickness we are all prey to.
This is false. We all belong to the same world and to
the same dilemmas of life, and hiving off one part of humanity as
"the enemy" is a sign of lack of contact with reality, lack of
participation with the total human story. It is a cop out.
This is a terrible danger of idealism - that it puts some vision of how
things should be above the reality of life as we find it and are
responsible for living it.
The Frenchman, was meditating on the total intelligence failure, which had
preceded and greatly facilitated the attacks. It seemed quite obvious to him
that these attacks were simply the reaping of a harvest sown by an extremely
greedy, cold-hearted and most of all short sighted Western foreign policy.
Assuming, of course, that is was not part of a plot by a global conspiracy of
the powerful to bring to finally and permanently reduce the population to herd
status. Maybe they were blood-drinking giant lizards. Maybe the attack was a
form of occult blood sacrifice. Maybe there was a reason why planes did not
scramble over New York till after the attacks. Maybe there was a reason why no
passengers described the terrorists as Arabs. Maybe passports can survive plane
crashes even when Black Boxes do not. Perhaps there was a reason why Bush
Junior was so adamant people should not listen to conspiracy theories. None of
this The Frenchman found very useful, preferring at the time to comment on the
official fiction rather than the unofficial one.
Quite patently, when people decide to use other people's countries as a
playground for their power and economic games, they should expect that the
oppressed, brutalised, exploited, surviving relatives of the collateral damage
would find some way of kicking them in the teeth eventually.
The root of the present terrorist situation is not to do with politics,
nor religion, nor race, nor rich and poor. Its root is separation
from the whole, an incapacity to partake in the ordinary sufferings and
strivings of mankind. Isolationism is a word that has been going
around lately - the isolationism of the USA and of Islam or parts of Islam.
It is the same illusion on both sides - the illusion that there are sides.
An incapacity to relate to life and to indulge in an idea for personal gratification instead.
This is the sickness of our time, not institutions, not the police or whatever
Please notice how easy it is to displace reality and hurt others in the
name of an idea. It's easy to become a fanatic. One is secure in
one's ego and has the right on one's side, so to hurt others is a minor
detail. To be a fanatic, to put an idea above everything, is an
evasion, and abdication of duty to life, the life we are all given as a
gift. It is to take this gift and claim it as one's own to do with
as one wishes, rather than make of it a gift to all that lives.
One small act of kindness is worth more than ten thousand ideals.
If we cannot see the unity of mankind, if we do not accept all along with
their virtues and failings, then we are not yet conscious of
mankind. We are not yet aware of our membership in the human race.
I too am an idealist. I too have a vision of a perfected
world. In my journey in life to serve this ideal I have learned
that the only thing to be changed is one's own selfishness, and this - at
least for me - is done through service to others. I have no other
"enemy" than my own selfishness. I do not project any
enemy "out there". The battle-field is within, in one's
own heart and motives. If I perform an action that is not in
service to others (which I do unfortunately) than it is an action that
counts for nothing in the universe. It is no contribution. If I
perform an action that harms even one human being, then it is a failed
action, a failure to live life as it was given to me. There is one
other enemy: ignorance - ignorance of one's own wrong intentions.
So I put it to us all. There is a quality to right action. It
brings light and harmony to everyone around. It brings no
hurt. Everyone has some gift through which they can bring this
light and harmony to birth. That is their vocation. That is
their path to freedom for themselves and for others. But such
action is possible only when one is in a true relation with oneself and
with everything else. If there is division between "me" and
"they", then the only right action is to seek to remove this
division, because in that divided state one's actions will bring
disharmony and darkness instead of light and harmony.
Wake up. Stop dreaming of some great tomorrow and attend to what our
creator has put before us in the present moment. One good action
now is the seed for tomorrow. If it is an action out of goodness, then it is a great action.
It will not be reported in the newspapers, but it will be recorded in the book of life.
I believe every human being by nature intends the good, but to act from
that and not get it overlaid with a false perception or false ideology is
It is pretty obvious that a hunter-gatherer society cannot produce
empires. The remnants of the Bantu people in Africa cannot produce empires
either. But the domestication of animals or the growing of crops does not
lead to empires, as neither does a surplus. A surplus comes about through
the division of labour, and the division of labour creates the
circumstances for individual gifts to be cultivated, and this enables the
socialization of mankind.
The socialization of mankind. This has to find its way, for along with its
possibilities come also its dangers and problematics - not as evils but as
challenges to higher forms of socialization, in which there arise, really
for the first time, moral perils, which themselves challenge us to high
modes of living.
Mankind is not yet fully socialized. That is the challenge thrown down
before us by history and modern world events. So there is a conflict
between ambitions and responsibilities, with individuals and with
communities, since they are compelled by existence itself to both fully
become themselves, and to fully act alongside others harmoniously.
In this context, to call a state or an empire good or bad is quite
wrong. Of themselves they are neutral. It is what a community makes of
them that actually counts. And it is the same with history. No historical
event has a causal power, only what is made of such events.
It seems to me that we are living at a time when all communities and
cultures are being compelled to negotiate ways of living together. The
times have gone when each community can live in isolation from the rest of
mankind, let alone when they can revert back to a hunter-gatherer
state. This challenge, I suggest, is what lies underneath so-called
"Globalisation". It is a time of trauma because it demands of us a new and
higher mode of morality, a global ethics if you like. Such a trauma is
bound to be messy and full of muddled thinking and big mistakes. So far it
is being looked at only materially - that is to say, only in crude terms of
economics and politics. Yet some kind of higher politics and higher
economics is being called for, where material self-interest is not the
On this scale of things the intervention in Afghanistan has no particular
implications. It remains to be seen if what follows is good or bad or a
reversion back. Overcoming one group of wicked or ignorant leaders does
not of itself produce a good group of leaders or a better way of life. All
that is just the outer face of things, not the inner realm of causes, which
lie in human nature itself and what it will rise to or fail to rise to.
We have had a long period of thinking politics determines everything, as if
everything were reducible to politics. At last this false mode of thinking
is being abandoned for the reductive and limited perspective it is. It is
the other way about. The manner of thinking and the inner condition of man
produces the politics. Plato saw this long ago, but humanity is slow to
see such things.
So I would suggest that the future possibilities of mankind depend upon
what we are dedicated to. If we are dedicated, collectively and
individually, to the True, the Good and the Beautiful, then we shall
flourish as a race and discover out deepest potentialities. If not, we
will learn from nature the hard way. That is to say, we will learn that
selfishness and privatisation of the individual don't work, are impractical
and stultify the race.
Finally, in total contradiction to Imperialist arguments about empires, terrorism
is elements WITHIN the larger community that endanger it from within. Many
foresaw this was coming as long as 60 years ago. We are not about to
witness the birth or spreading of empires, or conflicts between empires,
but struggles from inside the human community - elements that cannot act in
relation to the whole. The "political" criminal is really no different to
the ordinary criminal. They cannot function in the larger context of the
whole or on behalf of the whole, so they are "outsiders" or "outcasts".
Likewise with any criminal group or gang. They are dysfunctional, like sick
cells in the body. In a way it is not even a moral problem, but one of
integration - of how large a group one can be a member of and act on behalf
of: the human race or less. Humanity is the smallest unity for man within
which the partial unities function.
All depends on what we aspire to essentially, both individually and collectively.
Most of the popular aspirations we hear about in the media are not really human
aspirations - some new product on the market, a pension and all that. In
short, whatever we see in any advert. These do not call forth what lies
waiting in the human spirit for actualisation. So they do not
satisfy. Why the hell should they? But aspiring to the highest cannot be
forced or inculcated through ideologies or propaganda, or tinkering with
political systems. One only aspires to that which springs out of one's own
heart or conscience, and this counts for societies as well as individuals.
It cannot be injected from outside. But a lot of false aspirations can be
cleared away by seeing their smallness.
Politics and good or bad laws follow afterwards accordingly and
naturally. If mankind aims for what is truly human, then social systems
will adapt to those aims, not the reverse. Systems of government reflect
the inner state of a community, and when the inner state changes, so will
All depends on what we are FOR, not on what we are against.