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From the Dalai Lama on 9/11/01:


The events of this day cause every thinking person to stop their daily lives, whatever is going on in them, and to ponder deeply the larger questions of life. We search again for not only the meaning of life, but the purpose of our individual and collective experience as we have created it-and we look earnestly for ways in which we might recreate ourselves anew as a human species, so that we will never treat each other this way again.

The hour has come for us to demonstrate at the highest level our most extraordinary thought about Who We Really Are.

There are two possible responses to what has occurred today. The first comes from love, the second from fear.

If we come from fear we may panic and do things-as individuals and as nations-that could only cause further damage. If we come from love we will find refuge and strength, even as we provide it to others.

This is the moment of your ministry. This is the time of teaching. What you teach at this time, through your every word and action right now, will remain as indelible lessons in the hearts and minds of those whose lives you touch, both now, and for years to come.

We will set the course for tomorrow, today. At this hour. In this moment. Let us seek not to pinpoint blame, but to pinpoint cause.

Unless we take this time to look at the cause of our experience, we will never remove ourselves from the experiences it creates. Instead, we will forever live in fear of retribution from those within the human family who feel aggrieved, and, likewise, seek retribution from them.

To us the reasons are clear. We have not learned the most basic human lessons. We have not remembered the most basic human truths. We have not understood the most basic spiritual wisdom. In short, we have not been listening to God, and because we have not, we watch ourselves do ungodly things.

The message we hear from all sources of truth is clear: We are all one. That is a message the human race has largely ignored. Forgetting this truth is the only cause of hatred and war, and the way to remember is simple: Love, this and every moment.

If we could love even those who have attacked us, and seek to understand why they have done so, what then would be our response? Yet if we meet negativity with negativity, rage with rage, attack with attack, what then will be the outcome?

These are the questions that are placed before the human race today. They are questions that we have failed to answer for thousands of years. Failure to answer them now could eliminate the need to answer them at all.

If we want the beauty of the world that we have co-created to be experienced by our children and our children's children, we will have to become spiritual activists right here, right now, and cause that to happen. We must choose to be at cause in the matter.

So, talk with God today. Ask God for help, for counsel and advice, for insight and for strength and for inner peace and for deep wisdom. Ask God on this day to show us how to show up in the world in a way that will cause the world itself to change. And join all those people around the world who are praying right now, adding your Light to the Light that dispells all fear.

That is the challenge that is placed before every thinking person today. Today the human soul asks the question: What can I do to preserve the beauty and the wonder of our world and to eliminate the anger and hatred-and the disparity that inevitably causes it - in that part of the world which I touch?

Please seek to answer that question today, with all the magnificence that is You. What can you do TODAY...this very moment?

A central teaching in most spiritual traditions is: What you wish to experience, provide for another.

Look to see, now, what it is you wish to experience-in your own life, and in the world. Then see if there is another for whom you may be the source of that.

If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.

If you wish to know that you are safe, cause another to know that they are safe.

If you wish to better understand seemingly incomprehensible things, help another to better understand.

If you wish to heal your own sadness or anger, seek to heal the sadness or anger of another.

Those others are waiting for you now. They are looking to you for guidance, for help, for courage, for strength, for understanding, and for assurance at this hour. Most of all, they are looking to you for love. -- My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

Dalai Lama

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by Johan Galtung and Dietrich Fischer

The world will never be the same again after the terrible attack on the economic US, the military US, the foreign policy US, and on human beings like all of us. We embrace the victims of the violence, of all violence, in deep grief, and express our hope that perpetrators will be brought to justice.

A violence at this level can only be explained by a very high level of dehumanization of the victims in the minds of the aggressors, often due to a very deep level of unresolved, basic conflict. The word "terrorism" may describe the tactics, but like "state terrorism" only portrays the perpetrator as evil, satanic, and does not go to the roots of the conflict.

The text of targets reads like a retaliation for US use of economic power against poor countries and poor people, US use of military power against defenseless people and US political power against the powerless. This calls to mind the many countries around the world where the US has bombed or otherwise exercised its awesome power, directly or indirectly; adding the 100,000 dying daily at the bottom of an economic system identified by many with US economic, military and political power. Given the millions, not thousands, of victims it has to be expected that this generates a desire for retaliation somewhere, some time.

The basic dividing line in this conflict is class, of countries and of people. It is not civilization, although US sense of mission, manifest destiny, and Islamic sense of righteousness are parts of it. Right now the confrontation seems to be between the US/West and Arabs/Muslims. But this may also be a fallacy of misplaced concreteness: the latter may possess more intention and more capability than other victims of the enormous US/West violence since the Second world war. We should neither underestimate the extent of solidarity in the "rest of the world", nor the solidarity of the world upper class: the West; and build solidarity with victims everywhere.

In placing the horrendous attack on the US in the context of a cycle of retaliation, there is no element of justification, no excuse, no guilt-attribution. There is only deep regret that this chain of violence and retaliation is a human fact. But it may also serve to make us break that vicious spiral.

There has been an outpouring of sympathy and offers of help, even from governments with whom the US has had differences, like Russia, China, Iran, Cuba and Libya. There is an overwhelming desire to end such atrocities, in the way piracy on the high seas largely ended when all governments began to cooperate in opposing it and pirates lost their safe havens.

More stringent security measures like guards on airplanes, tighter surveillance of communications and sharing of intelligence can make some difference, but they do not go to the root. Bombing Afghanistan may kill some terrorists, but will also kill innocent civilians, and is likely to recruit many more who are willing to become martyrs.

We need to eliminate weapons of mass destruction under stringent international verification, or they will be used sooner or later by terrorists, because they are not deterred by the threat of retaliation.

With talk of Crusades from the USA, and of the fourth stage of jihad, Holy War, from Islamic quarters, the world may be heading for the largest violent encounter ever. The first jihad, against the Crusades 1095-1291 lasted 196 years; the Muslims won. The second, against Israel, is undecided. The third, against communism in Afghanistan, supported by the US, ended with Soviet withdrawal and collapse. Some Muslims are willing to die for their faith, expecting to go to paradise. Most Muslim clerics have stressed that the Koran prohibits the taking of innocent lives. Equating all Muslims with terrorists would be like equating all Christians with the Ku Klux Klan.

To prevent a slide into a large war with enormous, widespread suffering, the US, everybody, should not rush to action. There is a need for deep self-reflection, seeking to identify the conflicts, the issues, solve them, reconcile. Dialogue and global education to understand how others think, and to respect other cultures, not debate to defeat others with stronger arguments, can lead the way toward healing and closure.

Governments in the West, and also in the South, cannot be relied upon to do this; they are too tied to the US and also too afraid of incurring US wrath. Only people can, only the global civil society. What is needed as soon as humanly possible is a massive peace movement, this time North-South. It worked last time, East-West. The future of the world is more than ever in the hands of the only source of legitimacy: people everywhere.

A Chinese proverb says, "If a spear is sticking in someone's body, it is not enough to break off the visible part. Unless we remove the tip from inside the body, a festering wound will persist." As painful as it is for many at this time of tragedy, if we want to succeed in eliminating terrorism, we must understand its sources and remove the causes of extreme hatred that drive some people to commit mass murder and suicide.


Johan Galtung, a Professor of Peace Studies, is Director of TRANSCEND, a peace and development network. Dietrich Fischer, a Professor at Pace University, is Co-director of TRANSCEND. VISIT TRANSCEND'S WEBSITE

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By Michael Albert & Stephen R. Shalom

In the wake of the horrific attacks of September 11, many people find their feelings of sadness and shock mixed with anger and calls for war. But war would be horribly wrong for at least five reasons.

1. Guilt hasn't yet been proven.

As the New York Times acknowledged, "Law enforcement officials ... appear to have little solid evidence tying Mr. bin Laden's group to the attacks" (NYT, 20 Sept. 2001). If we believe in law and justice, when crimes are committed we don't advocate that victims who have a strong hunch about culprits impose punishment. We demand proof. We reject vigilantism. We reject guilt by association. This is elementary and uncontestable, except when fear and the drums of war cloud consciousness. In the case of September 11, though an Islamic or Middle Eastern connection seems clear, there are many extremist groups that might have been responsible. To rush to punitive judgment, much less to war, before responsibility has been determined violates basic principles of justice. Guilt should be proven, not suspected.

2. War would violate International Law.

International law provides a clear recourse in situations of this sort: present the matter to the Security Council, which is empowered under the UN Charter, the fundamental document of contemporary international law, to take appropriate action. The Security Council has met and unanimously denounced the terrorist attacks, passing a strong resolution. But the Security Council resolution did not -- despite what Washington might claim -- authorize the use of force, and especially not a unilateral use of force. The resolution ends by saying that the Council "remains seized of the matter," which as former UN correspondent Phyllis Bennis notes, is "UN diplo-speak" meaning that "decision-making remains in the hands of the Council itself, not those of any individual nation." To be sure, the UN Charter allows countries to act in self-defense which would permit the United States to shoot down a terrorist plane, for example. But it has long been clear UN doctrine that self-defense does not allow countries to themselves launch massive reprisal raids -- precisely because to allow such reprisals would lead to an endless cycle of unrestrained violence.

3. War would be unlikely to eliminate those responsible for the September 11 attacks.

If bin Laden is indeed the evil genius responsible for the September 11 attacks, is it credible that he and his top aides would be so bumbling as to wait around for the U.S. military to exterminate them? We know they have already abandoned their training camps (NYT, 19 Sept. 2001). They may have relocated themselves to some unknown caves in the Afghan mountains, they may have moved into various Afghan villages, blending in with the population, or they may even have left the country entirely. Are U.S. bombers and cruise-missiles really going to find bin Laden and unknown associates?It's doubtful that Washington has good intelligence as to their whereabouts; when the U.S. launched cruise missiles at bin Laden in 1998 -- with the advantage of surprise -- its information was out of date and he was already gone. It's likely to be even harder to find him and his lieutenants now. War is hardly the most effective way to pursue the perpetrators and they are hardly likely to be its primary victims.

4. Huge numbers of innocent people will die.

It was precisely the fact that the September 11 attacks killed large numbers of civilians that made the attacks terroristic and so horrific. If it is immoral to slaughter thousands of Americans in an effort to disrupt the U.S. economy and force a change in U.S. policy, it is no less immoral to slaughter thousands of Afghans in an effort to force the Taliban to change its policy. The United States is moving large numbers of warplanes and missile-launching vessels into the region, yet there are hardly any military targets in Afghanistan for them to attack. It is inevitable that civilians will bear the brunt of any major campaign -- civilians who, in their vast majority, probably are ignorant not only of the recent terrorist assault on the U.S., but probably even of bin Laden himself. Ground forces might be less indiscriminate, but it's hard to imagine that Washington's military plans won't involve the massive application of force, with horrendous human consequences.

While the image of bombers flying over Afghanistan and bombing a people whose average lifespan is about 45 years of age and who are suffering terrible deprivation already -- not least due to the Taliban, which the U.S. helped create and empower -- is horrifying enough, it is important to realize that death and deprivation come in many forms. Even without widespread bombing, if the threat to attack the civilian population or outright coercion of other countries leads to curtailment of food aid to Afghanistan, the ensuing starvation could kill a million or more Afghans by mid-winter. Is this the appropriate response to terror?

5. War will reduce the security of U.S. citizens.

What drives people to devote -- and even sacrifice -- their lives to anti-American terrorism? No doubt the causes are complex, but surely deep feelings of anger and frustration at the U.S. role in the Middle East is a significant factor. If the United States goes to war some terrorists may certainly be killed, but so too will many innocent people. And each of these innocent victims will have relatives and friends whose anger and frustration at the United States will rise to new heights, and the ranks of the terrorists will be refilled many times over. And the new recruits will not just come from Afghanistan. To many Muslims throughout the Middle East, war will be seen as an attack on Islam -- and this is one reason that many of Washington's Islamic allies are urging caution. Significantly, the New York Times reports that the "drumbeat for war, so loud in the rest of the country, is barely audible on the streets of New York" (NYT, 20 Sept. 2001).

Their city suffered unbearable pain, but many New Yorkers know that the retaliatory killing of people in the Middle East will not make them any safer; on the contrary, it is likely to lead to more, not less terror on U.S. soil, and in any event, would wish the same pain on still more innocent people.

The dynamic of terror and counter-terror is a familiar one: it leads not to peace but to more violence. Israel's response to terrorism hasn^(1)t brought Israelis more security. Nor has retaliatory terrorism made people more secure elsewhere. Indeed, it is quite likely that the perpetrators of the terror attack on the United States would like nothing more than to induce a massive U.S. military response which might destabilize the whole region, leading to the creation of millions of holy warriors and the overthrow of governments throughout the Islamic world. Whether bin Laden's al-Qaeda or some other extremist group or groups is responsible, war might play right into their hands, reducing the security of us all.

Thanks to Z-net for this contribution

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By Phil Grant

It was quite disturbing to listen to reports of Mayor Giuliani's hectoring the United Nations about moral absolutes while characterizing the struggle against terrorism as one in which 'we're right and they're wrong.' This kind of self-righteous discourse has been steadily leaking out from those close to and within the Administration, despite pleas from most of our moral and spiritual leaders not to think apocalyptically, judge prematurely and act precipitously towards those suspected of planning the massacres of September 11.

As we all remember, soon after the attacks, the President tried to liken a possible US response to a 'crusade.' Just a few days ago, when a respected member of the Washington press corps asked Ari Fleischer if the administration regarded Osama bin Laden as a political or spiritual leader, his reply was, in effect, that neither was applicable since bin Laden was just an evil, bloodthirsty murderer. And of course, the sentiments of Reverend Falwell and Pat Robertson on the terrorist crisis will not easily be forgotten, regardless of how much they apologize. Shouldn't our politicians instead start to emphasize the distinction that Gandhi and King made between persons and behavior, when they insisted that, unless we are God, we cannot know enough to call anyone evil, and instead should reserve that term for the actions they commit? It's not difficult to surmise why such a distinction is outside the thinking of Giuliani and his kind. If we started to call actions evil, rather than persons, then we should be forced to ask embarrassing questions about our own behavior, at home, and overseas. It's much easier to project evil onto a group of people, organize a crusade to eliminate them, and then bask in our own holiness.

There used to be a time when the 'American spirit,' was seen as an approach to political crises that tried to replace self-righteous indignation, with a dispassionate analysis of causes, and a cool-headed consideration and implementation of policies designed to address those causes. Is it too much to hope that we can recover this lost thread of our political tradition?

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