March 24, 2003
Shocking and Awful
I don't have cable TV. I don't enjoy commercial programming and news propaganda. While visiting in Toronto this weekend, however, I had the opportunity to watch some television.
What I saw on the screen was sickening. It was a fiery, hellish horror named "Shock and Awe." Over 1000 cruise missiles - weapons of mass destruction - were hurled into the city of Baghdad within 24 hours. It was even more frightening that this unspeakable violence was delivered in the name of peace and freedom.
I work with people whose lives have been ruined by pain and shock. Shock paralyzes the system. Shock does no good. To hear the word "shock" used as something that will create happiness is in itself shocking.
President Bush stared out from the screen and said the terror he was inflicting was about liberation. A young pilot who fired his cruise missiles for the first time said it was "kinda neat." These people and all the others who commit violence do so because they cannot feel the pain of the person they are burning and killing.
War is an illness of feeling.
I was dumbfounded. My body could feel the horror of what I was watching. It could not sit still. Like a parent hearing the cry of a baby, I was organically moved to act. But how?
In the song "Revolution," John Lennon sang:
You better free your mind instead.
John Lennon followed up on his belief by doing primal therapy. This has been my path as well.
Now, as a primal integration therapist, I assist people in releasing and resolving traumatic pains and returning to a life of balanced feeling and awareness. To me, it is a revolutionary act, because I believe that when we can fully feel, our actions are balanced, effective, and genuinely compassionate. When we can fully feel, our efforts are not twisted by our own dysfunction into something counterproductive to ourselves and others.
When we can fully feel, we can sense the feelings of others and we cannot hurt them without feeling that hurt ourselves. Feeling brings peace.
As I watched, the television images continued. The fireballs and mushroom clouds seemed to create a giant question mark. Is personal growth and healing enough? Could I answer the cries of the children in Iraq by saying, "Don't worry, I'm doing therapy"?
The shock and abuse that these children are experiencing will traumatize them and make them more likely to abuse themselves and others. They may start wars and inflict more pain, more repression, and more abuse from generation to generation. This global epidemic is growing faster than our ability to heal it by doing individual work.
We can't completely retreat in order to heal, because the world may come crashing in on us. We are connected to it and it is connected to us. We are one and the same.
The children burn. The children cry. If we act blindly, we may continue to spin the wheel. If we focus on individual healing, we may let the wheel continue to spin. What do we do? Or not do?
The next day I walked out into the street and joined a protest for peace. I saw babies, children, students, mothers, fathers, and elders. I saw every skin colour. I saw every faith. I saw every type of clothing. I saw smiles and tears and frowns and sorrow. I heard talking, shouting, laughing, hooting, and cheering. I walked purposefully in this tribe of thousands. With one voice we roared "Peace!" "Now!" Millions around the world joined us that day, and our giant voice is getting louder.
I felt the power of people connected in a feeling. I cried.
I am home now. I will continue to hear the children of Iraq in my heart. I will continue to heal personally. I will continue to support the healing of others. I will continue to keep informed. I will continue to write politicians. I will continue to sign petitions. I will continue to email information. I will continue to conserve. I will continue to boycott products that support violence and war. I will continue to march. I will continue to sing. I will continue to write.
Is it enough? I am only one person in six billion. One raindrop falling in the air. But trillions of raindrops falling together make a monsoon. If we all feel together, a monsoon of tears will put out the fires of war.