Saturday, January 3, 2009

Osama bin Laden Is My Brother

I know, that’s a very weird thing to say, at least by most standards. But OK, now that I have your attention. . . . . . . .
what I have to say is not about most standards. It’s about a greater standard, a standard beyond what we readily, and commonly, acknowledge to be our responsibility to one another. Bin Laden is merely representative of a dynamic that is fueled by each of us, and that each of us is ultimately affected by. It is the domino theory, that every action is affected by an action preceding it; that every motion sets additional motion in play. It is a law of nature. If I turn on a fan in the room it stirs up the air around me, which unsettles the dust in the room, which aggravates my breathing, which gives me the sniffles, which leads to a cold, which I pass on to someone else from the shake of a hand or the knob of a door, and so on, and so on, and so on. An unremarkable example, and one you could argue the medical/scientific merits of, but I think you get the point. Every action produces a direct effect of that action.

Prior to 9/11 Osama bin Laden (and his friends) failed to take into account the fact that we are his brothers. I will say that again. “Prior to 9/11 Osama bin Laden (and his friends) failed to take into account the fact that we are his brothers.” Long before that we failed, you can be sure, to take into account the same about him. I’m not talking about our government, or our country, I’m talking about us as individuals. 9/11 did not just happen. I believe that disrespect is the most profound shaper of negative ideology in the world today. Disrespect for one another on a minor scale always translates somewhere down the line into disrespect for one another on a major scale. I am certainly not blaming the U.S for the attack on the World Trade Center, it was an horrendous and unconscionable act. I am merely using the event to illuminate a broader personal responsibility that each of us needs to embrace if we are ever going to achieve peace on this planet. We rant and rave about countries provoking one another, waging war with one another, hating one another and why can’t things be different, but on the other hand we continue to use, slight, abuse and disrespect one another, in a myriad of ways and circumstances. “Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.” I’ve used the flow of water before to describe the cycle of wealth and poverty, and I use it here again because disrespect, like water, always flows downhill. It gathers in lakes and oceans, evaporates to form storm clouds overhead, then rains on us when the clouds can hold no more. It is a self-perpetuating cycle. Someone once said ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, over and over, and expecting a different result.’

I believe that if we want to call Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or Gandhi, or Jesus our brother, or the guy sitting next to us in church, we are also obligated to consider Osama bin Laden our brother, or the guy preaching hate on Air America, in the mosque, or with a bullhorn on a university campus. For all the perpetual George Bush haters out there who now want to embrace Barack Obama as their brother, they need to consider the Bush’s of the world in like manner. Can they do that? If not, their own disingenuousness will continue to subvert the very principals they supposedly stand for, and perpetuate, you can be sure, the horrendous divisiveness they create by their own behavior. Those on the ideologically opposite side of things need to do the same. I am not saying we need to agree with, or excuse behavior, but I am saying that love is the greatest moderator of behavior. Forgiveness is the greatest liberator from that behavior.
We are only as spiritually authentic as the measure of our love. Our love is measured in reverse proportion to our capacity for hate, and indifference falls squarely on the side of the negative.

We do not have the luxury to pick and choose who is a member of the human family, and who is not; who we would like to sit next to at the banquet, or stand behind in the food line. Unkindness comes dressed in superlatives far more often than it ever comes dressed in rags, but it comes, dressed in every pair of pants imaginable. If our exclusion of some, and inclusion of others, in our love is based on faith, ideology, political party, country, color, or social grouping, then we really amount to little more than a college fraternity rather than the supposedly enlightened and ever-evolving citizens of the world that we have all become so fond of claiming to be. Lets face it, the earth is a big house, but with more rooms than just the few that you and I happen to occupy. It holds an ever-increasing population of related individuals? If it is true that we are all Gods creatures (and I believe we are) then we must account for that reality, and not merely continue to pay lip service to it. For every major offense, or indiscretion, committed by someone, somewhere, in the world, a minor offense, or indiscretion, can be traced directly back to me. I am me, that is very clear; but you are me as well. Think about it.

Hate, disrespect, dishonor, and neglect spread like a virus to our faceless, unknown, and unimagined brothers and sisters right on down to the end of the line.

We have been commissioned to love our neighbor as our self.
If you say, ‘yeah, but my god doesn’t teach that’, then brother,
you just need to get yourself a better God.

Osama bin Laden is my brother.