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#7051 - 09/17/01 09:15 PM Words from my heart
Just Call me J Offline

Registered: 07/14/01
Posts: 204
Loc: Inland Empire, California
What follows is a letter I wrote to every person on my email list, that I have ever corresponded with. It is important to me to get this message out, as soon as possible, as wide as possible.


Many of you, I haven't spoken to in weeks, months or even years. I'm sorry. I pray for you, your families, and anyone you may have lost in these tragic times. I want you back in my life, because you are important to me.

What I am about to say is going to sound trite.

What I am about to say is going to sound clichéd.

What I am about to say is true.

I am going to use phrases from pop culture that we all know, because they communicate more quickly the ideas that have taken years for me to formulate and articulate; not because I lack the imagination to think for myself. Taken within the context of my whole life, they make perfect sense to me, but I don't have the time to explain all that. So please. Look deeper. Before you respond, take a deep breath. Sit with it awhile. Come back to it 2 or 3 times before you write anything.

This is too important for me, to try to send to individuals. By the time I talk to each of you, I feel that it will be too late (judging by how few of you I have been able to see or speak to in the last week). So, even though I have had a long talk with one of my friends about how poorly my mass-emails have gone over, I am sending this to everyone that I care about.


I can't tailor this to fit each person's personality quirks, to appeal to each person's individual hopes or goals. That is the business of politics. I am not a politician. I am a human being, and this entire situation is about the state of human beings, just like you and me, NOT about America, or a political agenda. It is about seeing human nature, in all its ugliness and glory.

I am a truth seeker. That's why I bounce my ideas off of everyone, take your input, and come back to you later, and try again. Oftentimes the truth hurts. Socrates was put to death for it. But truth can be dealt with. Lies and denial only hinder our pursuit.

Here goes.

In Star Wars: Episode 1, Yoda said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. And hate leads to suffering.” Suffering is what is happening in this world right now.

So what leads to fear? What starts this chain of human emotions that ends in sorrow?

Not knowing. Not understanding.

In order not to fear, we need to look into ourselves, and feel secure in our values, and things we hold dear. We should not give those things up, just because we are threatened from without. Because our strength comes from within.

In 1851 Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.” I don't know if this was an insight based solely upon experience, or in response to some tragedy. But in the face of the intense trials facing our country, President Franklin D. Roosevelt repeated that idea in 1933 saying, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

So what is it I fear? What is it that I don't know?

I do know that people from all over the world have joined together, to offer money, blood, time, resources, and their hearts, in order to help the victims of this tragedy. I saw how, on, one of my friends had seen $1000 donated to the Red Cross through their site Wed morning, then at $3000 by Thurs afternoon. By the time I reached the site Fri morning, the total was at $4,900,171 and change. I had to stop and count the commas, just to be sure. That is almost $5 MILLION dollars raised, and that was merely through that one portal. In 3 days. I haven't been back to see what it is now. The Red Cross is also receiving donations in the mail, and through direct phone calls.

The horror of these acts knows no national boundaries. Human beings of every skin color and religious belief are shaken by what has transpired, and have declared their sorrow for the destruction and loss of human life.

Then there are those reports of the Palestinians who cheered upon hearing the news. Those Palestinians must be some awful people, huh?

Now imagine that we had received videotape of Iraqi rebels dragging Saddam Hussein into the streets of Baghdad, his “government” in shambles. You can hear the cheers that would erupt in the US, just as well as I can… Look into those feelings. Please.

Are the Palestinians really so different from ourselves? They share the same anger and pain that we do, only they have sustained it for a much longer time, and have managed to turn it into hatred. We must not allow that to happen to us.

The character of the terrorists has been made clear. They are cowardly; lurking in the shadows; waiting for the time to strike the innocent, in order to draw a larger fight; hoping to pick up allies, once their enemy makes a misstep.

What is unknown to me is the true hearts of my fellow Americans. We are grieving, in pain, and desperate to show that we are strong (grief does not demonstrate weakness, by the way). So we posture, and we talk big.

But this also makes us unpredictable. President Bush has said that the terrorists have “roused a mighty giant” and this is certainly true. We have a lot of power. We're not afraid to use it. We are in the moral right. We are righteous in our anger.

But righteousness, while powerful and focused, can be a dangerous thing to ourselves, as well as our enemies.

Within the safety that the freedom of the country has provided, we have been able to nurture such values as respect for life, helping others, and supporting the same freedoms for everyone on earth. We must not let these terrorist acts destroy these values.

They think that these values are our weakness. What they do not realize is that they are our greatest strength. If they succeed in causing us to displace our values, THEN they truly have won.

In my work with abused and emotionally disturbed kids, I was trained in how to de-escalate potentially explosive situations. I worked with teenagers, notoriously hard to deal with in the first place. You would be surprised (I know I am, looking back) how well we could contain outbreaks of violence and property damage, without ever having to touch the child. But sometimes, the kids go too far. We were trained to deal with that, as well. We were trained to use the least amount of force necessary, and to keep ourselves safe. We were instructed to only use more force, when it becomes clear that the current level still creates a risk to the child or others.

In our training, we had the restraints done to us, just as we learned how to apply them to someone else. Having 2 people (or more) lay their entire body weight upon you, and keep you from struggling is NOT fun. It is very scary, as a matter of fact.

In the 4 years in my field, I have had to do a number of restraints. I have never enjoyed it, but it needed to be done. So I did it. I had to set aside all my personal feelings I had, despite the threats and insults I received, and concentrate on keeping that child safe.

Some were so uncontrollable that they were sent to a hospital, or juvenile hall, in order to keep them safe. Some kids I would have to look in the eye the very next day.

I've been hearing this statement a lot in the last few days. “It needs to be done.” “It,” being war.

I recognize that, just like the kids I have described, we have given the terrorists plenty of chances to end their murderous behavior. They haven't stopped, so we must stop them.

But that does not mean that we must enjoy it. This is a dirty job. We must not forget that this is a dirty job. We are in this for justice, not payback.

When we have won the war, and we are cheering, and crying, and hugging each other, let those cheers be of relief, not of delight over the destruction has been left in the wake of an unavoidable conflict. When it is over, we will be able to mourn for the losses incurred, and we should mourn for both sides.

Yes, for both sides.

I listened to it during the Gulf War. Cheers in my classes, when we heard about yet another target destroyed by our missiles. Exultation in showing Saddam what we could do. Do you remember that? We rode a wave of nationalism that was unprecedented in my lifetime. Until now.

We must rally together, and show our unity. But please remember that nationalism is the weapon that Hitler used to convince an entire nation to rally behind what became atrocities uncountable (though 5 million is the number springing to mind right now… isn't that a low number?). He used nationalism, and fear.

George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a philosopher in the 1800s, said “What experience and history teach is this-that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principals deduced from it.” I found this quote, while looking for the one that says, “Those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” I don't know who said that one, and I don't even know that I have it correct, but it says the same thing.

We must look critically at the things that have led up to this day. We must look at our successes, and our failures, and use that knowledge to avoid making the mistakes that have plagued our ancestors for millennia. 4 and a half millennia (isn't that the time frame scientists have placed on mankind's existence?). That's an awful lot of history. That's an awful lot of successes and failures. There are more people alive right now, than have ever died on earth.

When do we evolve our perceptions? Our ideas? When do we grow beyond the animal, lurking at the base of our brains? Human beings have become what we are, because of a large surface area of gray matter. We have been able to grow in a world filled with large animals with sharp teeth and claws, and dense fur to keep them warm, despite having no such defenses ourselves.

How did we do this? We used our developed forebrains to devise our own defenses from the world around us (think of Tarzan, whether from the book, or the Disney movie). No fur? We'll cover ourselves with animal skin. No claws? We'll use that sharp rock. We formed social groups and we helped each other. We protected each other. Some made sacrifices of themselves, because they knew that the others would be able to thrive, even after they were gone.

A smart human evolves when they learn from their own successes, and the hardest lessons are from their failures. But the smart human will learn from OTHERS' successes and failures. And the truly evolved human will know all this instinctively, and be able to concern itself with more important matters, when the pointlessness of hatred, bigotry, and fear becomes clear.

The price that humanity has paid to learn these lessons is immense. But that should only serve to reinforce how valuable the lessons are. We must not give them up.

I grieve for the loss of the human lives in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. I grieve for the loss of our innocence. I grieve for the loss of humanity in the perpetrators of these heinous acts.

I cannot fathom how faith in a divine, all-powerful God, can lead one to abandon the very principles of life that it professes to teach. The persons responsible have perverted these messages, to justify their own selfish ends. Human beings do not act, without some sort of reason, even if it's based on twisted, distorted, dream-logic. “It made sense at the time.” Islam is not the first religion that had its zealots who followed their own path, using the name of their faith even as they ignored it. Christians are responsible for the Inquisition and the slaughter of indigenous people. Both Christians and Muslim played their parts in the Crusades.

But these acts do not portray either religion, as they truly are. Do not let one group's distorted mirror change the good deeds done by peoples of any religious background. Faith has been the support for many of us in these difficult times. Notice that I did not say, “religion,” I said faith.

I have faith that truth will win out.

We're in this together.

I love you all.


We're in this together. - Nine Inch Nails

#7052 - 09/17/01 10:29 PM Re: Words from my heart

Jeremy -- you are clearly a deeply compassionate and thoughtful person, and what you have written here is a beautiful appeal to us to remember that we are human, ALL of us, including the terrorists. Indeed, we must do what is necessary to fight against terrorism, but we must not lose or ignore our values while doing so. Thank you!

I need to correct two of your statements. First, the one about the Palestinians cheering and how we would feel about Saddam Hussein's death. The two are not compatible comparisons. The analgoy is not a correct one, in my view. Here is why.

The Palestinians who cheered and danced in the streets were celebrating the death of probably over 5,000 innocent civilians who have nothing at all to do with their war in the middle east, other than prehaps voting for elected officials who then make the decisions and policies that do affect the middle east. theuy were only going to work, walking through lower Manhaaton on a beautiful sunny day in NY City, jogging, etc. The celebration of that group of Palestinians shows their total disregard for innocent human life -- adults and children. These are the same Palestinians who also support the bombing of innocent people in Israel -- women and children on buses on their way to school, or civilians of all ages sitting in a restaurant or cafe eating and spending time with friends. These Palestinians certainly do not represent all Palestinians, and we would be making a grave error if we begin to blame all Palestinians or Arabs for what happened in NY and Washington, or for the attacks in Israel. Nevertheless, let us not gloss over the ugliness and horror of those Plaestinians and others who DO care little if at all for innocent human life, but rather care only about inflicting pain and violence and death on unsuspecting innocents in order to make a political point. These terrorists and their supporters are simply wrong and doing evil things.

I also must disagree that the pain and suffering of these people is any justification for their behavior or acts of terrorism. NOTHING justifies intentionaly killing innocent people. Israel, for example, has suffered as much as the Palestinians in the last 53 years since the State of Israel was created. theuy have been attacked 4 times by every country that surroiunds Israel, losing thousands of lives. Their northern borders and the towns and cities near the border have been attacked again and again by mortar fire and terroist incursions, killing innocent women and children. theuy been forced to live in a state of war since the day of the Staet's creation on May 18, 1948 because their neighbors refused to accept a Jewish state in theeir midst. The Palestinians have also suffered, to be sure, but much of that suffereig has been at the ands of Jordan, Syria and Lebsanon, all of whom kept the refugee Palestinians in squalid refeugess campes for more than two decades, refusing to absorb them into their own countries.

Yes, there are individual Israelis who have done some terrible and wrong things to Palestinians, and Israel artests and punishes those indivduals for their acts. You did not see and won't see Israelis dancing in the streets when an Israeli terrorist commits a terrorist act. In fact, when an Israeli terrorist bombed and crippled the Mayor of Bethlehem back in the early 80's, i think it was, the perpetrator was arrested, tried and jailed for a very long time. No one in Israel danced or cheered, though I am sure that the Israeli terrorist's accomplises and partners in terror probably did celebrsate. I am also sure that there are some Israelis who would feeel just fine with commiting horribel acts against Palestinians, but they would be just as wrong and misguided as the terrorists.

I suspect that we Americans would feel pleased if Hussein were finally eliminated, but I also suspect that most of us would also feel sad that it had to come to that to begin with. Then again, even if we did celebrate, we would be celebrating the elimination of a man who has been the root casue of so much suffereing and eveil in his country and in the region. He IS a problem and IS directly invovled in the horrors he commits, unlike the 5,000+ Amercians who have died and are innocent. This where the analogy between teh Palestinians cheering over the 5000 and our cheerig over Hussein breaks down. The two simply are not the same.

However, I am convinced that if America went in and simply slaughtered innocent people, there would be outrage here across the country. Would there be some Americnas who would celebrate? Probabaly. After all, the KKK, Aryan Nations, etc. are Americans and do some horrible things to innocent people who are not white christian americans. We are also the ones who kept thousdnas and thousands of blacks enslaved for so many years, and then kept balcks segregated and weithout equeal rights for so many more years. We still do some of this today.

We are all human, no matter what our race or nationality, so there will always be those who seek to pervert what is right and just. but we must not allow that minority to become who we are as human beings and Americans...i agree with you 100%.

Now, the second correction is the number of people slaughtered by Hitler in the Holocaust. It is over 11 million, 6 million of whom were Jews. The other 5 million were gays, the mentally ill, phyically handicapped, retarded/developmentally delayed, anyone who was deemed weak and not a true specimen of the pure German race, and anyone who was caught not fully supporting Hitler and his plans.

Thanks again for your message here, Jeremy. I appreciate it very much.


[ September 17, 2001: Message edited by: LanceC ]

#7053 - 09/17/01 10:54 PM Re: Words from my heart
Just Call me J Offline

Registered: 07/14/01
Posts: 204
Loc: Inland Empire, California
Thank you, Lance, for your corrections (I knew the death toll of the Holocaust was too low). As I said, I am a truth seeker.

Having read your other post, and knowing of your experiences living in Israel, I can see how you might have jumped to a few conclusions. You actually made my point, in your rebuttal.

Look what has happened to the Palestinians who cheered in the streets over the deaths of over 5000 Americans! They let themselves give in to hate, and stopped thinking of the human lives lost.

We MUST not let that happen here. We MUST not allow our (very righteous, but easily misdirected) anger over this tragedy take us down that road.

And don't let the colors of a person's flag determine their goodness. Every human being on this planet will put their best foot forward... or their worst. Only time will tell.

I've heard a few of my friends use the word "justify" when I try to speak of these horrific events. It seems to imply that they think that I think these things were ok. When I make a statement of what might have gone through the heads of these people that gave up their membership in the human race, I am simply trying to make sense of the nonsensical. How can any sane person say that the killing of thousands is a good thing? I know that I didn't say any such thing. I think the entire tone of my letter attests to my feelings on the matter.

Life must be valued, in all its forms. We must protect the lives of all who are threatened, especially from the (barely) human predators that have done these horrific things. This goes beyond national borders. We are talking about the souls of humankind.

Let love rule.

We're in this together.

We're in this together. - Nine Inch Nails

#7054 - 09/17/01 11:10 PM Re: Words from my heart

Here, here, Jeremy!

You know, there is a story in Jewish tradition that says the following:

When the people of Israel were fleeing the Egyptians and then cornered at the Red Sea, they then crossed on dry land, and the Egyptians were drowned and destroyed in the returning waters of the sea. (This is what it says in the Old Testament, as we all know). The children of Israel broke into song and dancing and celebrating because of their escape and the death of the Egyptians. Then, suddenly, there was a crash from heaven and the voice of God cried out saying, "My children are drowning in the sea, and YOU are celebrating?"

This is a story that we retell again and again, to remind oursleves and our children that even the Egyptians, who persecuted us and tried to destroy us, were human beings, just like us. Even when humans do terrible things, they are still human, and the death of any human being is something about which to feel sad, not rejoice.

Also, on Passover, at the Passover Seder (special ceremonial meal held on the first two nights), we retell the story of Passover. Part of the story is about the ten plagues and the death of the first born children of Egypt. Here, too, as we read the names of the plagues, we pour out one drop of wine from our glasses for each plague, symbollically reducing the sweetness of the holiday and reducing our joy by not drinking these drops of wine. We do this in rememberance of ALL those who died and suffered, including the Egyptians, for it is important to remember that every life is precious.

I thought of these things while reading your original message. This is a powerful value and lesson in humanity and humility, one that I hope that we can all learn and remember, especailly during these difficult times!

Thanks again, Jeremy.


[ September 17, 2001: Message edited by: LanceC ]

#7055 - 09/18/01 06:04 PM Re: Words from my heart
Just Call me J Offline

Registered: 07/14/01
Posts: 204
Loc: Inland Empire, California
Thank you so much for finishing the story we all think we know!

I had a long talk with my best friend last night, covering "Deep Thoughts," "Words from my heart," as well as the politics of the current mess, and religion.

We talked about the hypocricy of the Christians who hate, and the Muslims who murder. My friend has issues with the Bible, as a creation of man, rather than God.

I agree, to a point, that something was lost in the translation from God's inspiration, through man's writing, to man's editing, and eventually, man's translation into multiple languages. But I believe, deep down, that God's underlying message did manage to seep through, even with all the trappings of mankind that got in the way.

With that in mind, I notice that the ending you provided, does not appear in my New International Version Student Bible.

As a Christian, my connection to things Jewish is limited to the Old Testament. I haven't studied them indepth, either. What are the sources of these additional insights?

I look forward to hearing your input. I hope that others will join our discussion.

We're in this together.


We're in this together. - Nine Inch Nails

#7056 - 09/18/01 06:19 PM Re: Words from my heart

The ending where God chastises the children of Israel for celebrating the death of the Egyptians comes from texts called the Midrash. These are part of the volumes of Rabbinic commentary on the Torah (Five Books of Moses). In Judaism, we have what we call Written Law (Torah) and the Oral Law (Talmud and Midrash).

The Oral Law is also very ancient and was passed dwon for hundreds of years only as oral tradition until it was finally written down in the early part of the common era. While the Talmud is more legal in its discourse, the Midrash is more a collection of stories that were told to illustrate and illuminate the hidden meanings of the biblical texts.

The Midrash I quoted is one interpretation of the part of the Bible where the people of Israel do dance and sing after the Egyptans are drowned. The Rabbis were uncomfortable with the notion of celebrating the death of other human beings and found that a careful reading of the biblical text suggested to them the story I quoted.

This story is a view from the Jewish perspective of over 2,000 years ago, and it still resonates for Jews today.



#7057 - 10/09/01 10:32 PM Re: Words from my heart
Just Call me J Offline

Registered: 07/14/01
Posts: 204
Loc: Inland Empire, California
Now that our government has finally begun the military operations that were inevitible after Sept 11, I feel the need to bump this thread back to the top.

Think globally, act locally.

We're in this together.


We're in this together. - Nine Inch Nails

#7058 - 10/10/01 01:05 AM Re: Words from my heart
fmighell Offline

Registered: 02/19/01
Posts: 276
Loc: Anchorage,Alaska
Respecting The Dignity of Every Human Being
Rev. Robert W. Nelson,Rel.D.,LMFT
Episcopal Diocese of Alaska
retired July 2001

Our God is one who takes sides with the vulnerable and the oppressed against the powers and principalities, even when the principality is the church... Inherent in this stance is judgment against those who cause harm to others. This judgement is not for judgment's sake, but for the sake of repentance for the abuser and justice for the victim.

Comapassion for the victim means that we be willing to suffer with her/him and not look for some easy way out of a difficult situation; we help make justice in spite of the confusion, pain and hostility in the community. Compassion for the abusing minister does not mean helping him/her avoid the discomfort of being called to account. It means being willing to call him/her to account and be present to him/her for the purpose of repentance.

Justice-making becomes the means for healing all parties involved. The church... can be the vehicle for justice where harm has been done by one of its representatives. Justice-making can free people to forgive, which can make restoration possible- with memory. Our goal is not to forgive and forget, but to forgive and remeber.
The Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, Seattle 1992

fmighell \:\) anc ak


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