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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Peace Within

I stayed up last night [as always]... but this wasn't like any other night. I watched as President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden was finally brought to justice. I watched as millions took to the streets to reaffirm their freedom from the fear of Bin Laden's looming shadow of venomous contempt. I remembered where I was when the twin towers became a twisted wreckage of rubble and despair. But this feeling was different. I began to reflect upon the sheer power that any religion holds on humanity when placed into the wrong hands.

There is some merit to the idea that religion can sometimes serve as a sort of false consciousness. However, humanity’s fierce need for the spiritual manifests in such a way that many can’t really understand... yet follow blindly. Values of religion, namely, shared empathy and the collective will to survive, transcended the falsity of Bin Laden and the banality of how his use of religion had been constructed to beguile his followers.

Thich Nhat Hanh has a wonderful saying, "Peace in ourselves, Peace in the world." This isn’t a Pollyanna notion that we should all just hold hands, pretend there's no war, pain, and trauma, this is a very real and practical path toward creating a better world. We need to learn how to take a good look at the wars we have raging inside each and every one of us in response to our own personal traumas in life. Whether that's the death of a loved one, harm inflicted on us, or some form of emotional trauma and learn ways to create peace within ourselves.

It’s a very simple path, but not at all easy.

Osama Bin Laden is dead as are his misguided perceptions and horrifying agendas, all of which he rationalized by using "his" distorted version of the Muslim religion as well as the Prophet Muhammad to further his hatred of altruism. I think that perhaps the Prophet Muhammad himself said it all when he said, “Feed the hungry and visit a sick person, and free the captive, if he be unjustly confined. Assist any person oppressed, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.” Bin Laden just didn't "get it" and it was unlikely that he ever would.

So... farewell Osama Bin Laden, may the families and friends who have suffered at your hands feel more peace and love without you around to stir their hatred and fear. And may you be at peace with the wars that raged within you to the point where you held the misguided delusion that killing thousands of people was somehow a path in the right direction. May we ALL be free from our injudicious reactions to the wars within and help guide all people into a direction of greater empathy, compassion, love and peace within ourselves and the world.

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." —Albert Einstein

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