It was a very interesting show about anger this afternoon. Thank you for taking my call and allowing a discussion of this timely and timeless subject concerning terrorism in general and the terrorist attack at the offices of “Charlie Hebdo” in particular. I agree with you and Bill Donohue in supporting the right of Islamists to be angry with Charlie Hebdo. And I agree with you in supporting the rights of the German protest groups to be angry with Muslim immigrants. However, I also support to the creators of “Charlie Hebdo” in their anger at religious leaders of all denominations (and satire is really just sneering anger thinly veiled as humor).
Everyone has the right to feel and express their anger. However, I would assert that the expression of that anger must respect the boundaries of the other person or group. Expressing anger at someone by killing them is an obvious and extreme boundary infringement. The terrorists allowed the satire to affect them by voluntarily picking up the magazine and reading it. They invited the insult to come within their boundaries. They could have ignored it. But I would imagine that they would still feel that their dignity and the sanctity of their spiritual leader had been compromised in the eyes of the rest of the world as well and that would matter very much to them, which is a pity, for we cannot control others and what they think. And what they think of us or what we hold sacred is truly not important. We can only control what we allow to affect us personally. We impute dignity and sanctity where we will and what others feel need not be our concern.
One of your other callers had a provocative suggestion for how to deal with the anger of Muslims and their feeling of entitlement to express it by killing others. His proposal was that we mount a modern Crusade or Holy War against Islam. By extrapolation I assume that he meant that the winning of such a war by the Christian countries and their allies, would teach the Muslims to not be so violent and to not retaliate with killing when they were angry. The irony is obvious to us, but not at all to him or to many people. After all we are not so far from The War to End All Wars that was quickly followed by WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom (my personal favorite) and numerous other US deadly covert operations all over the world.
You did immediately express your disagreement with his Modern Crusade idea, but only in that you thought that the situations were different. I heard you say that you felt the Crusades were justified in that the Muslims had attacked Jerusalem and were killing innocent Christians. You seemed to see it as a heroic rescue mission.
However, I feel that most, if not all wars are draped in altruistic ideals in order to seduce young men to make their bodies and lives the willing tools of the power brokers with much more selfish motivations and who remain safely distant from the front lines. Their incentive is fear and their goal is control of people, territory and resources so they can feel more powerful and therefore safer.
So I found your acceptance of the Madison Avenue version of The Crusades a bit naïve.
The real reasons, at the start of the “Holy Wars” of the 10th century were much like those held by Truman and Eisenhower, and their cohorts had for sending troops to North Korea and Vietnam a thousand years later in the 20th century. Variously Truman, Eisenhower and Pope Urban II felt that the sword-point of the enemy (be it Muslim or Communist) that was entering the heart of a distant country, would soon be entering the heart of their own region if they did not stop it where it was.
Also, and very importantly, Pope Urban II saw that his power as the highest ruler of Europe, could not safely be maintained for long, because he was being drawn into the various power struggles and in-fighting among the various kings and princes of his domain. So far he had done well with picking and betting on the winners, but what if he should back a loser some time? It could be disastrous for his own reputation and career. (A good reputation, to my mind, is an extremely dangerous thing to covet.) So he hedged his bets by creating an exterior conflict. He distracted the combatants at home and united them in a common cause—fighting the infidels of Islam. He maintained undisputed kingship in Europe by giving his squabbling courtiers, as it were, an external enemy at which to aim their anger. For there was huge fear and a huge appetite for war, then as now; and it was then and is now an appetite that needs to be fed continuously --seemingly. Urban was canny enough to know how best to do that in order to preserve his own power. He was the consummate politician.
I don’t know the specific psychological motivations of Truman, Eisenhower and the rest who came after who have continuously felt that killing others was necessary for their personal gain or for the safety of their citizenry. But I know without a doubt that the same generalized fear that grips the populace gripped them as well.
There is a growing suspicion that the most recent of US wars “against terrorism” were in fact designed and implemented and manipulated by some of our own leaders: Dick Cheney for one. I did not believe these at first but have seen mounting evidence that now leaves me feeling it is plausible. I know that the historic lust by men of power for land, resources and the allegiance of people can lead them to do horrific things. For they fully believe that the end justifies the means and that as long as the end serves them in some immediate way it is allowable.
This is absolutely the polar opposite of the truth. For whatever means are employed to gain an end, will without a doubt shape that end to be just like them. The means create the end.
Meanwhile the idealistic reasons given the public for waging war in Southeast Asia –was put out to be about defending the underdogs in S. Korea and Vietnam and elsewhere. This is strikingly similar to the reasons you, Patrick, mentioned (and which many people believe) about why Pope Urban II sent crusaders into Jerusalem--to right the wrong done to the martyred Christians and save the living ones.
Brave idealistic young men and women will lay down their lives and kill others for the patriotic ideals of keeping the homeland safe from present or future real or imagined dangers, and of rescuing the down trodden. They find it tremendously difficult to even entertain the possibility that they and millions of other military personnel have been manipulated by this same love… and it is love… down through the centuries. They will find it impossible to believe that they have been manipulated by their own desire to reach for something greater than their mundane selves—by reaching for something finer to surrender to wholly and to even sacrifice themselves to it unreservedly.
This sacrifice to war and killing is all a horrible perversion of something genuine and beautiful. The real spiritual surrender that the intellectual ideal arose from, has become twisted by anger that is not allowed on the one hand (as children) and is allowed excessively and inappropriately on the other (as combatants).
Children for the past 6000 years of our 160,000 year history have been increasingly taught that emotions are to be controlled and suppressed. And this is absolutely deadly. For the emotions are our direct link with our God-Self. Our emotions in their purest form lead us to conscience. A collective human awareness of and refined use of the emotions as guidance for the life would lead everyone individually and collectively towards peace. We would automatically know right from wrong without the need of any code of ethics delivered by either the philosophers or the theologians.
There is a natural, genuine drive towards altruistic surrender, towards service that verges on self-sacrifice, but it has the saving grace of genuine self-interest within it. It must feel good to the self as it is being delivered. If it doesn’t it is out of alignment with the God- self and it is wrong. Self-interest is of prime importance. But with the suppression of anger that is taught in virtually every family, every church, every school and every community a terrible perversion of genuine healthy surrender with self-interest has occurred. People are unnecessarily hurting themselves and each other. The surrender is simply to a higher deeper, wiser, more Divine part of the self.
I noticed that in another instance during the show, that you displayed the same preference for idealism that glosses over reality. You read a long list of Muslim terrorist attacks and the body counts. Then at the end you drew a contradistinction between “us and them.” We the Christian countries may have anger too, you admitted, but we do not go about killing the people who “made” us angry [quotes mine].
I was tremendously shocked to hear you say that, for the obvious truth is that anger has been behind all of our wars. We were all abused children, in terms of being taught to ignore our emotions and to look to outside of ourselves for authorities who supposedly held the Truth, when all along all the truth we needed resided within us, in the kingdom of God which is within.
It was angry American leaders and angry American citizens that sent American troops to Iraq and Afghanistan to kill 132,000 citizens and another 25,000 combatants after 911. It was angry citizens and leaders who sent US killers to Pakistan for the covert operation we are conducting there—sent there to kill another 35,000 children, women and men non-combatants. And because God allows everything, he allowed that those who had childhood anger that had been turned inward and became guilt, would feel like victims and would attract those who had anger that they turned outward and would inflict it on others. They would blame the weaker and feel justified in killing them for it would seem that those others had caused the unhappiness that the perpetrators felt.
So it might be the unhappiness of having one’s most holy object of spiritual devotion made the object of derision and salacious, demeaning “humor.” Or it might be the unhappiness of having had 2000 people in the twin towers murdered by the suicidal mission of religious zealots who were full of hate and self-righteous indignation. Both sides feel the same things. They feel disrespected, they feel victimized and they feel they have the right to retaliated in the most violent ways imaginable. And they are both wrong.
Love is the way. Love is the starting point, the means and the end. But those words are almost devoid of meaning in today’s world. So I will dilute it and make it imaginable. One [place we can begin to love is with the children. We must start to end the endless retaliation by loving the children. The children must be raised with vastly more respect. They must be seen as arriving in this world bearing an inner template or “app” of how their God-self wants them to live their lives. They must be seen to have a precious innate tool of knowing how their God-self wants them to live. That tool must be recognized to be the tremendous gift of the emotions.
When an infant cries there must be a loving response so the child feels empowered. When a two year old says no, they must be respected. When a child asks his weeping mother why she is sad, she must not say “Oh I am fine. Nothing’s wrong.” That is a lie and emotional lies to self or others—especially children--are extremely destructive. The parents of a child whose wishes they want to respect must also learn to respect their own feelings and desires at the same time. But ideas and beliefs must not be confused with feelings. We all have many ideas and beliefs we have gotten from others and from the past that simply are not valid. All beliefs and ideas must be examined for emotional validity and released if they have none.
The emotional needs of both parent and child can be ameliorated and accommodated successfully every time… with a little creative thinking and intuiting. For example, children do not like school the way it is presented today. They learn to tolerate it and to be as happy as they can. They learn to make the best of it. But they are not really happy. So when a child says I don’t want to go to school, then the parent should take this seriously and see if she can accommodate the child. If her answer is, “but if my child doesn’t go to school then I can’t go to work. And I MUST!” Then ask yourself, “do I really want to go to work?” Does my inner child want to go to work? Or is it my intellect, my rational mind (which is vastly overrated) that is saying I must go to work. What would happen if I didn’t? What would happen if I started to ask for what I really wanted? Fewer hours, better conditions, more pay etc. Or perhaps I would realize I had really wanted to work at home for some time now, but hadn’t dared act on it. I had not trusted my feelings. I had “thought better of it.” I had tried to be “practical” but had really allowed fear to rule me. Nothing is more practical than listening to one’s emotions and intuitions. They can always lead us to the perfect God-given solution that works best for both us and our children.
When the whole world is turning within for this wisdom we will be raising the children very differently. School will not be compulsive. Better child-centered schools will begin to appear. True love of learning will be allowed to be more important than discipline and control by the adults. Bells and clocks and rigid schedules will disappear in favor of an inner timing based on intuition and feeling. Children (not parents) will be assigned educational subsidies they can take wherever they want. The best child-centered schools will receive the most students and the most money that way. Other schools will quickly adapt and become child centered as well.
Emotional intelligence will be taught in every school. They will learn to ask, “what am I really feeling?” What are others likely feeling (although this is a distant second to what the self feels) How can I best express my feelings? What are the boundaries I want respected around myself? How do I allow others that same respect—for they will be taught that there is a Universal law that says, “what goes around comes around.” So they will not put out to others anything they would not want for themselves, for it will come back to them eventually.
And so anger will begin to subside in the world. Compassion will take its place. There will be no further need for finding targets for suppressed anger. Wars will end because love has become the way. Loving the child and allowing them to remain the genuinely self- loving/other loving beings they are when they are born, will change the world. The children will no longer feel terrorized inside by all the emotional falsity around them. They will not be terrorized by the domination of the intellect over the feelings (from others and eventually within themselves). Then outer terrorism will end. There will be no more “Charlie Hebdo’s” or war. There will be universal peace and amelioration of thought and feeling. Thought will serve feeling.