Thursday, September 8, 2011
I'm sitting here wondering what to post for 9/11/11. I went looking for an image and if the one I chose doesn't disturb you, then you're just not right.
9/11 had a really strange impact on me.
I don't know anyone in New York. I did stay at the hotel in between the towers at the World Trade Center once during a nor'easter - we couldn't go to the "Top of the World" because of the weather. The wind howled in through the window casing at the bottom (a hotel with a window that opens oddly enough) and the temperature in the room was 10° higher at the ceiling than the floor. Miserable trip.
When it happened I was on a Zen meditation retreat out in the woods and had been doing, well Zen for several days and the whole thing was just too surreal. By a long shot. But it also was too real as well. It felt like an attack on ME. It was Hollywood spectacle to the extreme and maybe that's why. Are we all too inured to these things that it has to be gigantic to make us pay attention.
It wasn't even really a large number if you compare it to even just the number of people who died in the USA that day without it, which is statistically around 7000 (see CIA Fact Book). I don't usually mourn buildings unless they have some sentimental aspect for me (see above, NOT). But it got my attention.
So, here's what I did - I started doing prison outreach. Seems mighty strange, but it felt right to me. That got killed by the Roshi for some reason a couple of years later. I don't think he ever really liked it and I'm not sure that it was a great benefit for a large number of people. It was for me though. I not only faced a great fear of my own walking through the doors into the prison to teach felons to meditate (crazy I know), but I was forced to put my philosophy to the test and see that they were in fact human beings.
That's right. The folks we keep locked away from our sight and thoughts in prisons are in fact real live flesh and blood human beings just like us. With mothers and fathers and children and hopes and fears and well all of it.
How does this relate to terrorism? Does how we treat our prisoners make us just? Can we see that how we treat our prisoners and whether we respect even their human rights makes us who we were. Yes, we were moral cowards when we handed Saddam Hussein to the Iraqi government to be tried. Even he had human rights and we decided to let the Iraqi's ignore them for us. Think about it.
This year to honor 9/11 a large, peaceful Muslim religious organization has chosen to donate blood as a gift of peace (Muslims for Life). This is terrific. I can't donate until November, but if you can, think about it. Maybe even find a friend or acquaintance of another faith and do it together.
Volunteering would be another great thing. I just got a flyer from Hands on Atlanta. I could still do something of theirs during the week.
On Sunday, I'll be at Red Clay Sangha participating in a memorial service and then will be at Myohoji Temple chanting in remembrance.
I will not, however, be afraid. I will try to bring fearlessness to others.