Tue
3
May '11

Looking in the Mirror

“One aspect of being human is our ability to choose our own behavior; more specifically, our capacity to return good for evil, love for hate, dignity for indignity.” – Pamela Gerloff

“2 wrongs don’t make a right.”

Isn’t that the old saying?

Too bad it isn’t true.

“Right” is simply in the eye of the beholder.

Or in this case, “right” is simply in the hands of those that be holdin’ the power to dictate what story will be told.

In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s demise at the hands of the US military, there have been scenes of jubilation and chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

We are so proud of eliminating this “villain” that people have tweeted their glee at the prospect of seeing pictures of his corpse.

This killing, of course, was justifiable.

After all, he was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.

The killing of more than 3000 Americans.

He got what he deserved.

If you kill Americans, by God, we will hunt you down and make you PAY.

We are more than entitled to be judge, jury and executioner.

After all, We. Are. The. United. States. of. America.

The defenders of all that is right, good and holy.

Hell, we ARE right, good and holy.

***

I began to imagine our reaction had the tables been turned.

Imagine that a special ops unit of soldiers from Iraq & Afghanistan had shown up in Texas to take W into custody for his alleged war crimes.

Like any good cowboy, he goes out fighting.

And all over TV and the internet, we see scenes of people dancing in the street overseas. Wrapped up in their flags, chanting and cheering over his death.

Now whether or not you actually liked W isn’t the issue.

After all, from their perspective, he is a suspected war criminal and needs to be brought to “justice.”

Given the thousands of casualties from *his* wars, the off-shore torture chambers, the number of innocent people detained and imprisoned without ever being charged, you’d agree that Iraqis and Afghans are entitled to their need to see “justice” served, wouldn’t you?

So, know doubt you’d totally understand people dancing in the streets and their leaders declaring that they (as a country) “can do whatever we set our mind to.”

Wouldn’t you?

***

I have been asking myself, how Osama’s death changes anything.

Will we completely withdraw ALL troops from Iraq and Afghanistan?

How are we better people, a better country now that he’s dead?

How are the victims of the 9/11 attack vindicated?

How are their families served?

How does closure become possible when you still harbor hate in your heart?

How has meeting violence with violence made us better human beings?

Who we were on 9/12/2001 is a far cry from who we are today.

Our “evolution” over the past 9+ years makes my stomach churn and brings tears to my ears.

We had an opportunity on 9/12/2001 to show the world “our capacity to return good for evil, love for hate, dignity for indignity.”

We squandered it.

We chose vengeance and called it “justice.”

So what.

We won.

Mission: Accomplished. (again)

***

I’ve read several posts on the death of Osama bin Laden and America’s reaction that are far more eloquent than mine.  This excerpt from one of my favorite authors, Tim Wise, is something that will stay with me for a long time.

Perhaps the only thing more disturbing than the celebrations unleashed in the wake of bin Laden’s demise was the cynical way in which the president suggested that his killing proved “America can do whatever we set our mind to.” If this is, indeed, the lesson of bin Laden’s death, then this only suggests we clearly don’t want to diminish, let alone end, child poverty, excess mortality rates in communities of color, rape and sexual assault of women (including the many thousands who have been victimized in the U.S. military), or food insecurity for millions of families; because we aren’t addressing any of those things with nearly the aplomb as that put to warfare and the killing of our adversaries.
We are, if the president is serious here, a nation that has narrowly constricted its marketable talents to the deployment of violence. (my emphasis) We can’t manufacture much of anything, but we can kill you. We can’t fix our schools, or build adequate levees to protect a city like New Orleans from floodwaters. But we can kill you. We can’t reduce infant mortality to anywhere near the level of other industrialized nations with which we like to compare ourselves. But we can kill you. We can’t break the power of Wall Street bankers, or jail any of those bankers and money managers who helped orchestrate the global financial collapse. But we can kill you. We can’t protect LGBT youth from bullying in schools, or ensure equal opportunity for all in the labor market, regardless of race, gender, sexuality or any other factor. But we can kill you.

I look forward to the day I tell my hypothetical grandchildren about how we as a country did nothing to close the income gap, allowed our public education system to fail, let workers rights be eroded in the interest of profits and how grateful they should be that they have no healthcare, but live in the “greatest country on earth.” ‘Cause by God, we can KILL better than any one.

Today, I am looking in the mirror asking, when will love win?

19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Looking in the Mirror”

  1. susan Says:

    Oh Lisa … once again, you stand up and out for all that is in my heart.

    I have felt so alone and confused since hearing "the news" and watching the masses "rejoice" … the whole thing baffles me beyond words and makes me wonder where I might find hope from next. Perhaps, I have simply lived too long.

    Perhaps, I find hope in you.

    Thank you for speaking your heart and helping love win.

  2. LisaMilesBrady Says:

    Your post on FB helped me gather the courage to write this. I, too, felt so alone wondering why I didn't or couldn't "celebrate."

    It took me hours, however, to post it.

    And then someone reminded me that if I was feeling this way, someone else was too, and needed to know they were not alone.

    I am glad it was my sister. 🙂

    Thanks for always knowing how to keep me going.

  3. @morningdiva Says:

    Makes me silly crazy! If we dont protect "US" you will not have the opportunity to "I look forward to the day I tell my hypothetical grandchildren about how we as a country did nothing to close the income gap, allowed our public education system to fail, let workers rights be eroded in the interest of profits and how grateful they should be that they have no healthcare, but live in the “greatest country on earth.” ‘Cause by God, we can KILL better than any one." Becauce YOU my silly girl will be dead and your "hypothetical grandchildren" if GIRLS will be butchered and never have an orgasm…nope they will be nothing but meat! OR a slave. YUP..thats right slave! Honey , you talk about freedom and rights and human LOVE…GO SAVE YOUR SISTERS ACROSS THE WORLD!!! They need our help!_

  4. @morningdiva Says:

    Carol…perhaps this was the LORDS choice. T
    his was a good …9 years too late but still good!

  5. LisaMilesBrady Says:

    Welcome morning diva!

    Yes…"makes me silly crazy" too.

    Dead from what? I could die from a brain aneurysm today. So could you. Car accident? Yep. Crossing the street. Check. All for more likely than some Taliban-like regime taking over the country.

    Unless you count the GOP–and we're well on our way. Good thing we were all so busy shopping and sending our soldiers to fight an enemy that can't beat to notice what we should really fear is already in our borders.

    If the fear of terrorism is the place we live from, they beat us long ago. Fear peddling is lost on me.

    "Protecting" us starts with better foreign policy. That's the work I'm about.

    And yes, I will continue to work with women across the world. They don't need to be "saved." With the right tools, they can save themselves. We need to stop treating them like victims and see them as capable and whole. Nothing will stop radicalism more effectively than an "army" of empowered, educated women.

    Thanks for stopping by, @morningdiva.

  6. Carol Hess Says:

    I thought I was the only one in this country who wasn't celebrating the assassination (let's use the correct term, shall we?) of Osama Bin Laden. And now I discover I'm not alone. Thank God. I never thought to blog about my reaction though. And you did, Lisa. Thank you for having the courage to do it.

    When I heard the news about Bin Laden, the first thing that popped into my head was "Revenge is mine, sayeth the Lord." Of course we're not calling it revenge. We're calling it justice. But justice is dispensed in the light of day in a courtroom by a judge and jury — not in the middle of the night in a compound by a Navy S.E.A.L. team.

    I'm not naive. I get all the earth plane reasons why we did this. But let's not kid ourselves. This was not our finest hour. Once again we chose fear and hatred over love. Why? Because it worked so well for us before? Are we ever going to learn?

  7. susan Says:

    I sure hope so Carol – that we learn, some day.
    Soon.
    Hope springs eternal.

  8. LisaMilesBrady Says:

    That's why you are so needed at this time and space, Susan. You bring hope to the collective consciousness that so many of us cannot. Thank you.

    For every person who wishes we could have killed him 3000+ times over, there's someone like you who has the compassion to allow others to feel that way in her presence yet still hopes for the wisdom of love to emerge.

    Thank you.

  9. LisaMilesBrady Says:

    It wasn't justice, it was PUNISHMENT. The man would have never gotten a fair trial in this country (not unlike others of color) so the bigger disappointment is that we didn't get a public hanging. Damn S.E.A.L.s.

    Let's run with @morningdiva's comment for a moment. "This was the Lord's choice." (You already know how I feel about *that* God), but it lends itself to my belief that this is exactly how things had to play out.

    I can accept (not for @morningdiva's reasons or that of the public getting the press) that we "needed" to kill bin Laden. The question that remains for me is, "who will we become as a result of it?"

    Once again we've been given an opportunity to step into higher consciousness or ???

    I think you and I already know where we are going with it. And that's what makes us sad.

    "Will we ever learn?" Eventually. The Universe is filled with infinite possibilities to "get it."

    Folks like us need to stop focusing on what the collective consciousness isn't doing and continue to align ourselves with the directions we've been given. It isn't our job to "save" or convince. Only share a different perspective, a different possibility that doesn't reflect the worst we have to offer. Some will stop and think. Most will continue on the path of the masses. That's ok. Shift won't require the majority and I think that's the hard part for us.

    Keeping asking the tough questions, Carol, just like you taught me.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing. xo

  10. Frank Dickinson Says:

    Looking in the Mirror http://bit.ly/iIAbdE (powerful stuff by @LisaMilesBrady)

  11. @lipdesign Says:

    I was (still am) at a loss for words over the reactions. I did not celebrate. I saw the news in the tweet stream and thought, "Oh how Greek tragedian … avenging death with death." and felt sad and unsettled the rest of the day. Many folks saying "a great day for Americans." Not so sure about that. I understand their perspective, but I find violence incomprehensible. Reacting to the tragedy with 2 wars that appear more aligned with a personal agenda than "avenging" the 3000 lives lost on 9/11(with thousands more lives lost than those on 9/11) seems senseless to me. As you wrote, "We had an opportunity on 9/12/2001 to show the world 'our capacity to return good for evil, love for hate, dignity for indignity.' We squandered it." We really did. When will Justice stop prevailing and LOVE (or compassion or grace) becomes the "right" choice? (that just popped into my head)

    Thank you, Lisa, for putting words to my thoughts and feelings. Your perspective and perception are great gifts that fuel your writing and illuminate your brilliance.

    xoxo, Lori

  12. LisaMilesBrady Says:

    Lori,

    Thank you.

    It saddens me that so many writers are unable to share their feelings about this for fear of being vilified and ridiculed because they didn't jump up and down and high five others

    People are entitled to their feelings about this event. We don't have to agree nor do we need to hide.

    If we want the world to respond with compassion, grace and love, we need to start with ourselves. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Give yourself permission to express your feelings in whatever way works for you. Then it becomes easier when others come at you with their judgment and name calling to respond with compassion. You've practiced it. Consciously.

    The "right" choice starts with you and me. The "right" choice is for us to stop hiding and share our vision and perspective even when we know that others will not agree and attempt to shame or frighten us back into silence and complicity.

    I really appreciate what you've shared here. It's requiring me to dig deeper and grow. Thank you!

    xo

  13. PeggieArvidson1 Says:

    Beautiful post. well said (as always) and thank you for introducing me to Tim Wise!
    love,

  14. LisaMilesBrady Says:

    Thank you, Peggie!

    Tim Wise pushes my buttons every time I read one of his essays. I don't always agree with him 100% but he challenges me and I love that. He is one to follow (he's on FB) and definitely one to read. Even if you never pick up one of his books, his essays are worth your time.

    Good seeing you here. I spent some time with a mutual friend yesterday and we both raved about you.

    xo

  15. Eloiza Says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you. xoxo

  16. LisaMilesBrady Says:

    My dear Eloiza,

    Thank YOU for letting me know it resonated in some way. I am grateful to you for helping me open my heart even more.

    xo

  17. Amy Says:

    Wow. Thank you for writing this.

    What a mess of emotions swirling around all of this. To me it comes down to how do we, as a nation, choose to project ourselves? What archetypes are we choosing? Who is making that choice and based on what criteria? Why do we need to be seen as the biggest bullies on the block? I was especially moved by the excerpt from Tim Wise. Thank you for sharing that.

    For me, the president's speech and the timing of this action were more about polling and the next election than justice? And that concerns me deeply.

  18. LisaMilesBrady Says:

    Amy,

    Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

    A "mess of emotions" is right. I don't know anything about archetypes so I cannot speak to that, but I do ask "Is this the best we have to offer the world?" Tim Wise's essay provided a perspective that I just can't get my head and heart around. But I know there is some truth in it.

    I haven't questioned the timing of the incident although after showing his papers, what better way to show the American people that you're "one of us"? There was something so disturbing about the speech that it somehow took me back to the W years and that has changed how I see this president. I am an admirer, but no longer a supporter. And that just breaks my heart.

    At the end of the day, Amy, we both know that everything is as it should be and that no one's reaction was "wrong." We just know that coming from a place of love looks a LOT different and we are both eager to see and be a part of a world living from that space. We just have to remind each other that it starts within us.

    xo

  19. Wayne @Reflexology Says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I'm a reflexologist who espouses "Live and Let Live" and "Love Starts From Within"
    I guess it's difficult, at best, to love if you haven't done the inside work first.
    Too many times (and it is predominantly the male humans who are guilty of this) the cacophony of the ego drowns out the persistent, yet passive nature of our all-loving, all-knowing soul.
    All we can do, is all we can do – and we should!
    Love yourself first and all else will follow.
    The examples to the contrary are all around us and ideally will serve to strengthen us in our resolve to be agents of love and not destruction.

    Wayne Nelson
    Redmond Reflexology