by Jean Houston
September 18th 2001
We are all New Yorkers. That is the gist of the message that I have
been receiving from the thousands of e-mails, countless phone calls
and faxes, and communications from people writing or calling me from
over 30 countries. The outpouring of love, of service, and even of life
itself is the miracle of humanity surpassing itself. All over this country
and throughout the world people are affirming their unity with us, and
more, the unity of all people. This tragedy brings us together in shadow
and in light, for richer and for poor, in sickness and in health for
as long as we all shall live. The desecration that occurred is also
the announcement of a potential global union.
I have often spoken of how technology and the internet gave us the
world mind taking a walk with itself. But in the light of the events
of September 11th, we now must speak of the world heart, the world stomach,
the world spirit. America is not longer insulated from the pathos of
We are present at the birth of an opportunity that exceeds our imagination. Christopher Fry writes, "Thank God, our time is now, when wrong comes up to meet us everywhere, never to leave us till we take the longest stride of soul men ever took." All oppression rises in our time, all shadows, all terrors, and factors unique in human history also arise around us to compound our folly and confuse our desire. We yearn for meaning and deal with trivia. We are swept in currents over which we have no control.
Government has become too big for the small problems of life and too
small in spirit for the large problems. The tyranny that threatens to
destroy us is not just terrorism; it is the tyranny of the unjust demands
we have made of Nature and the tyranny of some nations being kept in
economic slavery by other nations.
This is a huge test we find ourselves in. We have newly emerged from
a century of war and holocaust. Our hopes for the new century, the new
millennium were for a new way of being between nations and people, between
the earth and ourselves, between spirit and matter. Those hopes still
live, if anything, they have become more powerful, more necessary. For
America it will mean a deep shift of our attitudes to other cultures
around the world to one of service and support rather than exploitation
and dominance. Yes, the perpetrators have to be found and dealt with
through therapeutic law and international justice. They are not a nation,
they are a cancer, and a cancer is rarely removed through a cycle of
violence. Rather, as in holistic medicine, they have to be subdued by
the strengthening of the healthy immune system, the envisioning of the
pattern of health, and yes, the removal of the cancer wherever it can
The metaphor is apt. Our health, our security, is built on friendship.
Instead of spending so many billions for weapons of destruction (which
we manufacture ourselves and sell globally), what if we were to use
some of those billions to the feeding of the hungry (one in every three
persons), the housing of the homeless, the making of those efforts that
can result in the healing of the wounds of nations. Real security demands
real friendship, global marriage. As one of my correspondents brilliantly
addressed these issues, "The problem is not just terrorism. The
problem is generations of beings who experience not having an identity.
The question is what made human beings incapable of feeling love, compassion
or empathy towards themselves or anyone else, and thereby, becoming
destroyers of their own species? What happened that human beings could
become so psychologically, emotionally and spiritually distorted that
they could believe that Islam, one of the most spiritual paths in the
world, could encourage murder and suicide to gain heavenly reward?"
Friends, these are not Muslims. These are marginalized fanatics who
have made a travesty of their faith. The issue is how we can join together
to create a world in which such pathology will no longer be nurtured.
Many of us are feeling impotent before the enormity of the prospect.
Some of you, I know, have experienced "meltdown", some have
seen visions, had dreams. Many have had the portals of their minds blown
open to deeper realities, potent reflections. Tragedy has drawn us closer,
sent us deeper, and given us the option of preparing for life rather
I have been considering some of the things that you may wish to do
in the days and weeks to come that will give expression to your feelings
and need to act. What I offer below is drawn primarily from my own reflections
as well as others, particularly some prescriptions offered by Yes! magazine.
1. In these spirit quaking times, align with your own spiritual resources.
Take time to meditate, pray, reflect in solitude and in nature. Allow
yourself daily time and space to be re-sourced. Consider living daily
life as spiritual exercise Watch your finer intuitions and ideas, and
share them with others. Commune with your spiritual allies, archetypal
friends, quantum partners. In the place of spiritual connection feel
strength and compassion and intelligence flow. Become creative in your
actions. Plot scenarios of optimal healing and begin wherever you can
to put them in place for events as well as people. Practice miracle
2. Give yourself vacations from television. So much of it anyway is
infomercials for war.(However the local New York City stations are filled
with human stories of compassion and courage.) But do listen occasionally
to talk shows and call in with your own opinions and ideas for making
a better world. Write that letter to the editor. Write or call your
congressman and local government officials. Handwritten faxes seem to
be the things that are most likely to get through, followed by phone
call. e-mails, alas are the least likely. You can find your U.S. representatives
at www.house.gov or for Senators, www.senate.gov. Above all, Let Your
Voice Be Heard!
3. Gather in groups and, if possible in ongoing teaching-learning communities
of wisdom and empowerment. But let everyone speak, and do not deny them
the authenticity of their feelings even if they diverge widely from
4. Talk to the kids, your own or other people's children. Let them
express their feelings, tell you what is on their minds. Give them a
grasp of the larger issues at hand. Tell them about mercy and compassionate
action. If possible engage them in service oriented activities. Let
them se the larger story.
5. Show up at town meetings, or other places where people meet to pray
and talk and engage each other. Sign petitions if you are willing and
join in other activities that are "sending a big message".
Have vision circles to put forth images of what the world can be. Envision
the possible society together. (For ideas, you might want to look at
my book, authored with Margaret Rubin, Manual of the Peacemaker, which
deals with the Iroquois creation of a better society.)
6. Get thee to a mosque! Give support and compassion to Arab friends,
colleagues, or people you happen to meet of middle eastern origin. Stamp
out hatred and fear surrounding these people wherever you can. Let them
tell their stories, their hopes and dreams. In fact, try and learn as
much as you can about the Middle East, the political situations there,
as well as the teachings of Islam. For key information on the crisis
and well considered information and opinions about the Middle East you
may want to go to Alternet.org and commondreams.org.
7. Give up your own holding patterns on your old self. This is the
time to become or at least to enact the possible human. Let your senses
take pleasure in the glory of this world. Let your heart celebrate the
incredible gift of life. And share this with others.
I live in a double domed house that was the last design of my old friend
Buckminster Fuller, completed just before he died. I asked my house
what words it would give you and it responded with Bucky's own. They
came out of a time of tremendous personal crisis in his life.
"So I vowed to keep myself alive, but only if I would never use
me again for just me - each one of us is born of two, and we really
belong to each other. I vowed to do my own thinking, instead of trying
to accommodate everyone else opinion, credo's and theories. I
vowed to apply my own inventory of experiences to the solving of problems
that affect everyone aboard planet Earth."
Much Love and High Regard,
Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine
of international copyright