Becoming like our enemies
Dear Editor:What in the world is going on here?The United States invades another country. The administration ignores evidence that Saddam Hussein was not involved with Osama bin Laden and the events of Sept. 11. The search for Osama goes cold.The American government keeps certain people locked up indefinitely, without charging them and without giving them access to lawyers. American soldiers torture prisoners in the prisoners’ own country.The president calls a country “evil.” A religious fundamentalist calls America “the great Satan.” America feels it has to defend itself.We “give” another country democracy, whether it wants it or not.The president believes he is right. The religious fundamentalist believes he is right and calls for “a holy war” against America; he sees no contradiction in that phrase. Each claims that God/Allah is on his side.Is it possible that neither is correct?A week before 9/11, I signed a book contract. After 9/11, I became worried, but not about a terrorist attack. I was concerned that the American administration, personified in George W. Bush, would react with revenge. After all, a normal human response might be “to bomb the hell out of the SOBs.”Yet I hoped that America’s ideals and principles would prevail in spite of the grief of Sept. 11. Perhaps naively, I was hoping that Americans would not give in to fear just because murderers wanted to terrorize us.Later that month, I wrote an introduction for my book. It included these words:”The terrorists and the hatred they expressed are now giving us the perfect opportunity to practice what we preach. God does not take sides on Earth. Everything here on Earth is for us. We humans are more powerful than we realize, because we determine much of what happens here.”If we really believe what we say we believe, we can love our enemies and we can do good to those who hate us. (And not just because it would flummox the hell out of them!)”The catch is: We have to make a conscious choice to do the spiritual thing. Consciousness does not come easy and there is a price. But oh, is it ever worth it!”More than three years after 9/11, it seems that we have not learned much of spiritual value from those events. We act as if we do not believe that all people are equal in God’s sight.A biblical question asks, “What does it profit anyone to gain the whole world yet lose one’s soul?” If soul is another word for spirit, then the American spirit has been lost. We have the whole world, yet we have allowed murderers and fanatics to turn us from our ideals.We have not done good to our enemies. Instead, we have become like them.LinelleAspen
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Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, declaring that “democracy has prevailed” as he took the helm of a deeply divided nation and inherited a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.