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  September 14, 2001

The 9/11 Terrorist Attack

When disasters strike, everyone responds from their belief system. My primal integrationist view, similar to Taoism, starts from the concept that all things are interconnected, though that may not be how they appear. Every action is ultimately connected to every other action, and any event is just one intersection in a vast web. From this view there is no blame, as blame implies a distinct, absolute starting point - which there cannot possibly be.

I remember, as a kid, being fascinated as my grandfather created a line of about six connected pennies on the kitchen table and proceeded to slide another penny at the first penny in the line. When that penny struck the first one, the last penny jumped forward - but the five pennies in the middle never moved! It was obvious to my little mind that the energy from the first penny passed through the others to the final one. Using this as an analogy, which penny is to blame for the last one getting the boot? Or was my grandfather's finger the origin? Or the person who showed him the trick? There is no way to find the origin of any event.

In the terrorist attack on the US, people are pointing to Islamic Fundamentalists in general and Osama Bin Laden in particular. According to sources, Bin Laden was trained in terrorism by the US CIA to launch attacks on the Soviets when they occupied Afghanistan. If US taxpayers hadn't paid for Bin Laden's training, would he be doing what he's doing today? Where does the blame rest? Nowhere.

Without blame, however, we are NOT free to wreak havoc without repercussion. This is not a moral issue, it's a matter of physics. Actions, by their nature, create counteractions, and if we are part of a chain of events that creates pain, that pain will be revisited upon us through the interconnected web. Push a swing and it comes back at you.

"Without blame" does NOT mean that we are "without responsibility" for our actions. To take responsibility is to accept one's part in a conflict, to resolve rather than perpetuate it, and to allow oneself a balanced life that is free of painful extremes - for oneself and others.

The primal way of dealing with conflicts has two major points that are based on this interconnected view of the universe -

"In a conflict, every party plays a part."

"A person can only be sure of their own perceptions, not the perceptions, reasons or actions of others."

In other words, it is impossible for one person to be totally wrong and another totally right. It is also impossible to know what another person's experience and motives are. You can only know your own experience and start from there. As we say in this work, you can ask yourself "What's my stuff?", or "What is there for me to learn here?". If this attitude of mutual responsibility is adopted by all parties, it immediately creates a pause that keeps the conflict from escalating. Then if the following basic steps are applied, a resolution to the conflict - and future conflict based on the same issues - can be resolved.

1) Express (report) one's feelings and perceptions without blame.

2) Listen to the other party's expression and feelings.

3) Feel and explore one's part in the conflict.

4) Feel, understand, and take responsibility for any past issues in oneself that are adding to the conflict.

5) Knowing what is acceptable and unacceptable to oneself, request what you would prefer to see happen in the future.

Of course, one of the prerequisites is that all parties agree with this viewpoint. If that isn't the case, it is still more beneficial to oneself to maintain this approach.

If the US leaders and the perpetrators were to diligently follow this approach, the killing would not escalate, and the world would be a safer place. Maybe the US would find out that the recent acts of terrorism are a response to past US acts of violence and terror that have oppressed and killed many Islamic families. Maybe they would find out that these particular people are psychopathic because they had horrible personal histories and indoctrination. Maybe the terrorists would find out that Americans are humans just like them - people who are simply trying to get through life and have no intention of hurting anyone. Maybe they would see that if they want us to really feel the suffering of their children, and attempt to correct various inequities, they will have to find more effective ways than killing us and making us angry. Maybe they would start to recognize and feel the awful pain that drives them to do these things. Feuds never work. Feeling the roots of the hurt can.

Commonly, terrorist attacks and guerrilla warfare exist because attempts at talks and negotiation have fallen on deaf ears. Then terrorism is resorted to, in politics as in relationships, to wake the other side up. Unfortunately, in this case, I suspect that the people in power - on both sides - have deaf ears, rigid thinking, and hard hearts. And unless they do wake up to the truths mentioned above, millions of innocent citizens on both sides are in danger of terror and abuse - just like children in a dysfunctional family when their parents won't stop fighting.

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