Good riddance to this decade.
I hadn’t meant to make a post about the past ten years, but a comment from my friend Doug Germann, who is a lawyer by the way, prompted me to write a response that became a little manifesto for action in this next ten years. Here is Doug’s comment:
The opposite of love is fear; conversely, the opposite of fear is love. Chris, you have named it well.
We are in a cycle of fear–an attack is made, we become fearful, hunker down, do something however ineffectual. We could somehow accept that there is a certain level of danger past which we can do nothing except be vigilant. But making people sit for an hour with nothing in their laps but their freezing hands will do nothing but make us all more fearful. And fear does not watch very well.
How do we help us to break out of this circle of fear?
Love is somehow the answer, but I do not have the way to apply it. Should we love the terror? I don’t think so: the very attempt was successful in increasing the level of terror in the United States–just touch the fear already there in any way, and the victim will crank up the terror willingly and quickly. Do we love the perpetrator? Somewhere it is written to do so. But we can also and more quickly love the victims–us–by realizing that we cannot stop all attempts.
We must calm ourselves first. We must love ourselves first.
Right now, we do not love ourselves, we fear ourselves–we fear all of us, the other of us. How do we move from there to loving us?
And in my response I pick up on this notion of victimhood. Here it is in full, withe some further amendments:
One thing about your comment Doug: this notion of the victim. I recall this starting in earnest on 9/11 when everyone declared “we are all New Yorkers” or something to that effect. We conflated concern and empathy for the families of those that died that day with an affront against US personally. We claimed the ground of “victim” and all the attendant outrage that goes along with that.
Victims are not always the best people to decide on response to their wrongs. This is why we have a justice system, and especially why we have a restorative justice system in some places.
The fact is that, I think it’s not a stretch to say that this latest attempt was actually a victimless crime. Sure it inconvenienced a lot of people, and no doubt there were some minor injuries but no one was victimized by this failed attempt. No one killed, no one irreparably harmed. Yet the desire for revenge burns and now Yemen is talked about as “tomorrow’s war.” Wow.
The response is unbridled outrage and everyone and their dog claiming the moral high ground of victimhood. This is why victimhood is so powerful. We build up victims in this culture to the status of martyrs for whatever cause we project on them. We give them a few wishes and nod solemnly in doing their bidding. And it’s one thing to do that with genuine victims like someone who has been disabled by a physical assault (it’s a good thing: comes from our compassionate desire to ask “can I help you?” Is there anything I can do?”), but another to do it with people who claim “an assault on you is an assault on me.” That faulty logic has led the globe in a worldwide war against it’s own paranoia in which millions of people are becoming real victims of confused egos run amuck. That is probably the legacy of this insane decade: that American politicians (and some other, eh Blair?) got to claim the story of 9/11 as “an attack on our freedom, which must be defended at all costs.” From that, a borderline psychopathic President was allowed to divide the world into two camps, manufacture it into a rationale for two open wars and a bunch of nasty, nasty covert operations and medieval law enforcement, and the result is that Americans are less free today than they were at the beginning of 2000.
That was not due to those that committed the crimes on 9/11: it was entirely due to the response. but people who were not victims failing to love themselves enough that they lost their ground. Let’s let this next decade be one where we train together in clarity and love. The fierce love of courage and maturity that it takes to bring peace in the world, in our collective and individual realms.
Happy New Year.