Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Initial Reaction to the 9/11 Event - Revisited 10 Years Later

I wrote the article below shortly after the 9/11 event occurrence in 2001.  Today, exactly 10 years later, I decided to re-publish this article as a blog post here.

Revisiting how I felt then... much of my feelings today are the same, but I have new insights based on events and facts that followed the event to the present day.  I may follow up this post with a sequel of what I have learned about this and other events over the past decade...

My thoughts on the "Attack on America" Crisis September 11, 2001
Copyright ©, 17 September 2001, by Ben Sheppard, all rights reserved

The events of last week were very stressful on me emotionally and caused me to go through a deep re-examination process of everything I believe in.
After a week of much inner turmoil, I am still unshaken about my beliefs and convictions about war and violence which formed back during the Vietnam era while I was serving my country in a lifesaving role, as a helicopter search and rescue air crewman in the US Navy.  Back then, the evil forces were far from US soil.  It was easy for most of us young idealistic folks to protest and point fingers at the military and the establishment, carry banners for love, peace, and proclaim pacifism.

We are now in a new age and the conditions and rules have changed somewhat.  We are no longer one socioeconomic, political super power nation struggling in a balance of power against another socioeconomic, political super power nation. Rather we are in the midst of evolving into a collective union of many nations with common socioeconomic, political, humanitarian, ideals while still holding dearly to each of our separate national heritages, cultural and religious beliefs.  Try as we can, we cannot stop the slow evolution taking place. 

The advance of technology, mass transportation, and mass communication are rapidly shrinking our world to the size of a Brooklyn back yard.  This is causing many factions of fear, resistance, and reaction from all sides, both religious, economic, and cultural.  Old feuds and prejudices that go back many thousands of years, and in some cases were lying dormant, have now flared up again with full force.

I recently started reading a book by Osho titled: " Courage, The Joy of Living Dangerously" and this book has become a real beacon of light for me!  I am learning that my gut feelings are real and I must pay attention to them above all else.  For years, I have been relying on my wits, experience, and prior knowledge to help me get on with my life, when in fact it has been holding me back from achieving my true destiny.

I have become very good at surviving this way but it is not really survival at all, but a slow, dull, but comfortable death.  If you put Lobsters in a pot of sea water, and very slowly bring it to a boil, they will be happy and eventually fall asleep and die... DOH!  That was me for the past 15 years... But not anymore!

A friend of mine once came up with a phrase and I love to use it: "When the roof of your house blows off in a storm, the sky is the limit!"  Now I'm ready for action... And boy, does this world need it!  Everyone is looking for answers, for explanations, for a secure road map, so that they can feel comfortable once again, and put their heads back into the sand and go back to their benign uneventful lives.

The iron is wicked hot now and its time for us to wake up and start living.  Terrorists are willing to die for their beliefs, lets start living for ours...  My mother recently cc'd me an email paraphrasing some of Dr, Martin Luther King Jr's words in a plea she sent to President George Bush.  I was touched.

Dr. King has been a major influence in my life!  I love him dearly.  I have on many occasions sat with my face full of tears while listening to his voice over the radio and remembering...

Being a musician/composer brought up in the blues and gospel belt of the USA, has connected me very closely with my African American brothers and sisters.  I constantly feel the pulse and pain of their struggle.

Reading my mom's words was like a light going off in the darkness and I jumped on the internet to do some research of my own.  Here are a few paragraphs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. which I feel are relative to the current state of affairs:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."

"We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart."

"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."

"Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy."

These words echo strong convictions and beliefs I hold deeply in my heart.  I know it is the correct way to respond.  We are dealing with criminals.  We are not at war with anyone or any race or religion.  It is a law enforcement issue even though the perpetrators may believe themselves it is a religious one.  I have studied these religious beliefs myself and know that there is nothing in the original scriptures condoning or praising these violent kinds of actions.

They have consciously and consistently broken many obvious universal laws against humanity, God, Allah, (insert your name for God here), including but not limited to mass murder, genocide, oppression of basic human rights, and destruction of property.  Whoever did this must be brought to justice in a correct and just manner that does not violate anyone's rights or freedom.

We must be careful not to allow ourselves to fall into the trap of becoming fearful of those we do not understand by associating them with acts and behaviors that they are not guilty of. Allowing ourselves to begin to judge others based on the color of their skin or social, religious and cultural beliefs is a dangerous road to travel.
I also believe that this issue should not be handled by the USA alone.  We need the wise counsel of our neighbors and allies who are there with us and want to help.  Handling it this way will be much more effective, gain solid integrity, and do wonders in bringing the nations of the world closer together and build trust.

It may sound trite and tired but I quote the Beatles one more time: "All You Need Is Love, Love Is All".  If we all really and sincerely try hard to practice this, the world would be transformed overnight!  It is the most powerful force in the universe and it still works.

We are all very concerned for our children.  I am a deeply spiritual person and I believe we all chose to come into this life with all of its consequences for some reason or another.  I believe our children made that same choice before they came into this world.
When my boys are old enough, I will respect their decisions and be very proud of them no matter what they choose to do in life.  I will encourage them to do it courageously and with conviction. I am trying my best through example, to teach them what I believe is the correct spiritual path, but they must make their own decisions at the end of the day.

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