Understanding 911 and the Politics of Blame

These 911 Commission hearings are fascinating. But lurking beneath the surface is something that really bothers me.

They don’t get it.

Then again, we don’t, either. It’s not enough to point the finger at those who did it. No, our blood lust demands more. So our “unbiased” bi-partisan surrogates are looking under every rock for someone else to blame.

But they’re looking in the wrong place. They should start with us.

Now, don’t think for a second that I want to give us some giant guilt complex. That monkey’s on our backs already. Here we are, the nation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, standing before the world as a beacon of light. And somehow we’ve misplaced our torch.

Let’s face it. We’re confused, stumbling around in the dark.

We delude ourselves into thinking we’re a bastion of freedom. Perhaps in a sense we are, at least to the extent we haven’t traded it for a false sense of self-righteousness. But as far as lighting the way for others to follow, we’ve got a long way to go.

We pray not to the God that speaks to us from the silence within, but to the god of comfort, acquisition, and preservation of our over-indulgent lifestyles. While much of the world is experiencing the stirrings of awakening consciousness, we’re content to sit back and tell them, “Sorry, guys. You’re on your own.”

And while many struggle to claim their own right of self-determination, our demand for more, bigger, better spurs our leaders to ride out on our nation’s technological steed, wielding a sword of righteous indignation. And if they don’t keep the heathens from the gates of our magnificent creation, we’ll get someone who will.

With that perspective, the 911 commission is doing us a big favor. They’re wielding the broom so we can pretend we’re sweeping out all the cobwebs that contributed to this horrible event. But when they’re done, we’ll still have our heads in the sand.

And the wounds that give rise to terrorism and conflict between cultures will continue to fester.

So what are we doing to combat the root causes that led to this mess in the first place? Do we ask our leaders to address the underlying problems of religious conflict, nationalism, hunger, and political oppression? No, we put them on the hot seat to explain how they let some third-world terrorists awaken us from our reverie. While we sit back wringing our hands, demanding they build our walls a little higher. We arm ourselves even more, hoarding the spoils of our conquests. Thomas Jefferson would have been proud.

Can I let you in on a secret?

Some of us want more of our nation. More than a safe place to live, more than a reasonable income to feed our families, and even more than sand in which to stick our heads.

In fact, we want more from ourselves. We want to stand up and be counted, to make a difference and this world a better place. But those desires stem not from a reaction to protect our way of life, but from the inner whispers of our souls. Perhaps the 911 tragedy was a wake up call for some, but for most it only accelerated what was already happening inside.

Many are beginning to wonder where our great experiment of democracy is headed. What is our role in the world?

Sure, we need to protect ourselves from wanton destruction. But we are so much more than a loud mouth carrying a big stick, threatening to swing it at anyone who so much as gives us a dirty look.

We’re supposed to be a nation of vision, where inner guided principles and individual rights take precedence over everything else. Isn’t it time we walk the walk, and demand our leaders put that vision before commercial interests, or the most recent blip in the economy? Or will we keep letting them buy us off through entitlements and pork-barrel benefits?

Some say we should go beyond our role of world cop to one of true leader, not by force, but by love and patient guidance. That doesn’t mean rolling over and playing dead. But it does mean putting our actions where our principles are, and not simply reaching to protect our wallets.

Our technology has created the means to draw this world together into one big society. Yet sometimes it seems we stand in the way of that happening, even as the downtrodden of the world demand a piece of the pie of abundance.

If you’re a parent, you know there comes a time to let our kids grow up. And when they do, we have to let them stand, and fall, on their own. And hopefully we’ll be there to help them up when they do.

The rest of the world is much like our children, and we’re the parents. We’ve fed it these values for 200+ years. Now it’s growing up, and wants to be treated as an adult, not someone to forever be bullied and controlled. How will we respond?

Will we beat them into submission? Or let them choose their own way while holding out the vision of a way to peace and happiness that they, too, may find of value?

Maybe we can drag them out behind the woodshed for a while longer. Eventually, though, what goes around comes around. They’ll grow up, and the beating will be on us.

In the meantime, we know what we have to do. We’ve got to throw the bums out. Because if we don’t, we may be forced to look at the ones who are really to blame.

And that’s one the 911 commission wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole.

Copyright 2004 by John Dennison. John is a voice for those who do not hear or know they have an inner voice. Author of Whispers in the Silence: Living by the Light of Your Soul, he can be reached at john@WhisperZone.org or visit him at WhisperZone.org, home for those who know their own way.

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