Friday, April 20, 2007

Deaths in Iraq, Parental Abuse, and Forgiveness

Presidential meltdown candidate of the year John McCain sings "Bomb bomb bomb Iran" to the tune of my favorite oldie "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys, and takes a justified skewering in the media.

Alec Baldwin leaves a ripe roaring rant message on his daughter's answering machine which is displayed on and discussed by every pundit you can think of. This tirade is difficult to hear if you're 1. a child who has ever gotten dressed down by a parent, and 2. a parent who doesn't believe in verbally abusing a child.

I watched Matt Lauer take on a quietly-incensed tone and remark about how "awful" Baldwin's call to his daughter was. I don't recall Matt ever looking quite so personally and emotionally involved in any story about Iraq or the terrible carnage of human lives there--not that he certainly isn't upset by it, but the Baldwin story obviously really affected him.

In the way that one person on TV can represent the attitude of millions who are watching, I wondered why it is that Americans can't get as moved and emotional about the presence of US military in Iraq, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, as well as several thousand American military personnel, all for the sake of a misbegotten crusade by an imbecilic president and his cabal of cronies. Imus gets fired, appropriately, for abusing his air wave privilege and speaking racial and gender-biased insults. Why doesn't Bush get thrown out for causing murder and mayhem and lying to cover up his reasons? There is no objectivity here--Matt Lauer is inflamed over Alec Baldwin's recorded telephone message to his daughter, but the Iraq occupation is treated as news the way the traffic report and weather is--it's always there, we just report about it.

IN the worst bombings in Iraq since the troop level was elevated, 195 people were killed in three explosions in Baghdad this week. Bush said Wednesday's carnage, in which four large bombs exploded in mostly Shiite areas of Baghdad and killed 230 people, had all the "hallmarks of an al-Qaida attack." Bush said the two-month-old security crackdown under which he is adding 28,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq was "meeting expectations" and the ongoing violence reflected an expected reaction by insurgents.
"There are still horrific attacks in Iraq such as the bombings in Baghdad on Wednesday, but the direction of the fight is beginning to shift," Bush said.

I can't listen to Bush anymore--I am interested in keeping abreast with international events and political news, which includes hearing what the most powerful person in the world has to say--but I can't listen to him talk. It's like trying to hear the music, but all the instruments need tuning. Even if I disagree with him, it's his inability to articulate, his outlandish gestures that to me are his attempt to compensate for his lying and impish greed. McLuhan said the "medium is the message." In this case, how right he was.

Then, there is my absolute conviction that the greatest lesson humanity--that's each of us--can learn from the Holocaust, is that to stand by with the knowledge of what's happening, and to do nothing about it, is the reason it happened, and could happen again. Criminal behavior, breaking the human moral code, killing innocent people on behalf of a bizarre half-baked notion that they rightfully should be killed because they are a threat to the rest of the community--that is the mechanism for the Holocaust, or Milosevic's "ethnic cleansing" campaign, or the slaughter of innocents in Africa, particularly the Darfur region of Sudan.

But the way this carnage can take place in a "civilized" world--a society which holds enlightened values like every life is sacred--is when the "good" people turn their heads, knowing what's what, and don't do anything about it. And these "good" people--most of us--don't acquiesce to the bad guys out of bad intentions. On the contrary, any moral person is appalled when confronted with the facts of the massacres taking place in Darfur, or the incidence of AIDS among African men and women. We just have so much on our plates there isn't a priority there for us to spend the time to get informed, or lend a hand in person.

That's the lesson learned from the Nazis--when we see it coming again, we have to plant our feet in the ground and hold up our hands and say, "this is not going to happen again. This will stop now." There are some very concerned and interested parties involved in taking this stand. Entertainment personalities who get the exposure, like George Clooney and his father Nick, and Mia Farrow, who have gone to Darfur and reported on the status and jerk the chains of congresspeople and the media are heroes and doing their part. But the media does not do enough to put this in the face of our society. Oprah does, and with all her power and presence, it's not enough without the participation of everyone. Otherwise, in fact, the lesson I think is most important from the past, has not been learned. And innocent people in a part of the world we don't think about very much, people just like you and me, are being hurt, put out of their homes, and killed because we didn't want to pay attention. We're outraged by Alec Baldwin, but Africa is on the back burner.

And of course there was the heart-wrenching, terrible, incomprehensible tragedy of the young man shooting and killing 33 people in Virginia. I have nothing to say about this--it is indescribable, just like 9/11 or any other strange event where human life is lost and injured by another human being, who is also tormented and sick. My wife, Cindy, is a spiritual counsellor who deals with events like this in people's lives. She wrote a newsletter this week to describe her point of view on what happened, and I defer to her discussion of forgiveness:

With regards to the recent university shootings, I'm sure we all feel great sadness and despair. Let us not forget that we are all made of light-even those who do us harm. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families, the Virginia University, and to all of those who are made to feel vulnerable and afraid by this young man's actions. He is made of light, however it is very apparent that he forgot this.

Sending light to him, this situation, this fear, this sadness doesn't mean condoning it on any level. Instead it means "sending light" to purify it in all ways. To surrender the condemnation, anger, and rage-all those ingredients that fueled this incident in the first place, are what's most effective for healing to take place in all ways of time. What does this mean? That we send healing energy to all the issues, intentions, confusions, and fears. We send our light to the dark. Sending light to any matter is never a waste of time or energy. In fact, it is the most effective declaration of love that we can send.

"If God's Will for you is complete peace and joy, unless you experience only this you must be refusing to acknowledge His Will. His Will does not vacillate, being changeless forever. When you are not at peace it can only be because you do not believe you are in Him. Yet He is All in all. His peace is complete, and you must be included in it. His laws govern you because they govern everything. You cannot exempt yourself from His laws, although you can disobey them. Yet if you do, and only if you do, you will feel lonely and helpless, because you are denying yourself everything. [This is the] illusion of isolation, maintained by fear." (A Course in Miracles, p. 143.)

Remember, what we focus on expands-and therefore, create more of the same. Send love, blessings, healing, and resolve; otherwise, what we react to-we become.

"Light does not attack darkness, but it does shine it away." (ACIM p.144.)

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