"The problem with knee-jerk reactions is that you too often end up kneeing the wrong jerk."
-- Swami Beyondananda
In the wake of the tragic and senseless bombings in Boston this past Monday, three "usual suspects" emerged:
- It was the Muslims.
In this whodunit, each camp pre-concluded the perpetrator based on their worldview -- or at least hoped out loud that their villain was the perp. Progressive journalist David Sirota, who otherwise seems to have his head on straight, wrote a piece for Salon entitled, "Let's Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber is a White American," and those who know a little too much about "false flag operations" saw government conspiracy written all over it.
Now two Chechin brothers have been identified as the perpetrators, and that seems like a likely enough story. As Freud supposedly said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. At the same time, given the way the government has used each incident to institute creeping martial law (in this case the lockdown of the entire city), it's understandable why any official story might lack credibility.
Like the little boy who cried Wolfowitz, our government and military industrial complex has so often manipulated the facts, distorted the truth, and cultivated fear, division and disinformation that the body politic is suffering from what can only be called post-traumatic stress disorder, probably dating back nearly half a century to the Kennedy assassination.
Because there is no longer a trusted arbiter of the "truth" people are free to believe whatever they believe and hunker into their "silos" and receive only the information that reinforces their preconceptions.
There are still people who believe that Muslims are the only villains out there, or America, or Obama or the NRA. Here's the inconvenient truth. Villainy is an equal-opportunity employer. The history of our so-called civilization has been so ruled by the "Rule of Gold Rule" ("Doo-doo unto others before they can doo-doo unto you") that our collective unconscious is a seething toxic mass of unresolved grief, terror and rage. As the unworkability of the whole thing becomes more and more apparent, the poison escapes -- or explodes -- out of any convenient pore.
As the media pulls us into the "details" of the story, we might do better by pulling ourselves out of the trees to see what the "forest" has to tell us. And I see two key areas of "common ground" so that we can individually and collectively come to our senses and -- as the Swami would put it -- "turn the funk into function, and leave the junk at the junction."
A Convenient Truth
The first is to appreciate and utilize a very convenient truth. We have a deeply united body politic. Regardless of where they line up on the political spectrum, the vast majority of ordinary citizens recognize that our government and corporate media cannot be trusted to tell us the truth, or even to call forth a constructive conversation. Like the friend or family member who is possessed by alcoholism or addictive drugs, the government (actually, the corporate state -- coercive power doing the bidding of big money) cannot "heal" itself.
What is required is an "intervention" where the addict's loved ones come together to check the individual into a program.
America requires not just an intervention, but an "inner-vention" where we look inside ourselves to acknowledge the seeds of the evils we see "out there" and together in conversation -- left and right coming front and center -- we speak and listen together first to determine the "likeliest story," and then to ascertain and call forth what we would like instead. In other words, the intervention and inner-vention should lead to IN-vention.
As Van Jones famously said a few years ago, Martin Luther King's speech was not, "I have a complaint." We all have complaints, grievances, stories of injustice. That is the history of humankind -- or rather, human-unkind.
And there is a parallel story, which is our second hopeful area of common ground.
For millennia, our spiritual teachers have pointed us toward the notion that we are indeed all in it together, that as Jesus said, "What you do to the least of us, you do to me."
It doesn't matter what the religious or nonreligious ethical system is, at the foundation there is love and connectivity. You can see here similar expressions of the Golden Rule in a number of different traditions.
As philosopher Alan Watts suggested, maybe it's time for the religious people of the world to stop worshiping the finger and instead see where it is pointing. This goes for fundamentalist atheists as well, whose belief in a non-God can be as fervent and rigid as any religious fanatic. Even if they cannot believe in God, they can certainly believe in Good. In the space beyond words and concepts, it's the same thing.
So, what would it be like for Americans to step away from their screens (computer screens, TV screens, and the belief screens that shield us from novel ideas), and gather together in sacred space? What would it be like to call forth that which exists beyond religion and non-religion, and ask ourselves to speak into and listen from that space? There is no political, religious, economic, technical savior who can or will make things right. And, by using the collected heart wisdom of humanity to properly focus our mental capabilities, we might actually be able to navigate the evolutionary passage in front of us.
Will we do it? As baseball great Willie Mays once said, "That's what we're going to play the season to find out."