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We Must Embrace Love, Not Fear
By Dr. Ray Angelini
September 18, 2001
In the wake of the terrible tragedy that occurred a week ago today, I thought it would be appropriate to deviate from the normal format of this column and instead share with you some of my thoughts and feelings regarding what we all witnessed last week.
The day after the tragedy, my daughters had a meet-the-teachers night at their school. When I went to visit my younger daughter's English teacher, she had written on the blackboard, "Nothing is different, everything is different." She asked her students to write an essay on this statement as it related to the events of the previous day.
I believe that we all can benefit by pondering what this statement means to us in the wake of last week's disaster. Many of us returned to our normal routines on Wednesday, but I strongly believe that most of us realized that the events of the previous day changed us and the world in a profound and irrevocable way.
The two most common questions are "Why did this happen?" and "How should we respond?"
Many among us are rightfully angry and horrified over the senseless loss of human life we witnessed last Tuesday. Many are screaming for revenge and retribution, and this, too, is quite normal and understandable. We are all clamoring to find out who is responsible for this tragedy, but I believe we are asking the wrong question.
The more appropriate question is "What was responsible for this tragedy?" The answer to this question is perhaps easier to define, yet harder to address. I truly believe that what caused last week's tragedy was terror and fear, and I believe that the intensity of our resolve to address the root causes of this terror and fear will ultimately determine how and if we once and for all eradicate terrorism.
As I see it, there are two possible responses to the events of last Tuesday. One emanates from love, the other from fear. Fear seeks to find blame, love seeks to find a cause. Fear begets fear, and love begets love. If we seek retribution, we will forever live in fear of retribution from those upon whom we enact revenge. If we seek to pinpoint cause, we must face the reality that as long as we have groups that feel aggrieved, disadvantaged and disenfranchised, we will encounter violence and ultimately terrorism.
I believe that the fundamental question facing the human race today is how we define power. If we continue to identify with external symbols of power, such as money and political power, we will see no end to the devastation.
This external perception of power has shaped our national and global economy and has put the power to control the world economy in the hands of a very few people. The notion of power as the possession of the few at the expense of the many is at the heart of our current crisis.
As Gary Zukav has said, we need to develop a "deeper understanding" of another type of power. This power is life-affirming, and recognizes the deep meaning and purpose of life. This is real power.
During this time of crisis, we must get in touch with the highest part of ourselves and help others do the same. We must help ourselves and the world claim this authentic power that is filled with enthusiasm, purpose, and meaning. Embracing this power leaves no room for fear, and thus obliterates what I believe is the root cause of terrorism. These are the choices that confront all humankind today. They have been the same ones that have plagued us for millennia and which we have failed to adequately answer. Failure to answer them now might very well eliminate the need to answer them at all. I pray that this time, we finally get it right.