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What Unites America with Islam - 2
|by Dr. William R. Stimson|
It is a paradigm of connectedness, cooperation and mutual assistance. In it, there is no notion of a separate existence. Everything gives to and receives from everything else. We take our being -- our very essence, our real substance -- from innumerable others and are intricately and inextricably connected with them at every moment in our lives. This realization brings about a behavior that serves others and makes their interest primary.
You don't see this in America's conduct today. As the global superpower it would be world leader ' never suspecting a leader is leader because he serves the whole, not just himself. In every tiny detail of diplomacy or trade, America selfishly pushes for its own narrow advantage ' oblivious to the price it will pay down the line. It's embarrassing to see America stand against measures to stop global warming, stand against efforts to wean the world's youth from tobacco, stand against the attempt of farmers in poor countries to sell their products to us. The list goes on and on.
All that's wrong in the world, on a national or individual level, comes from an illusion of separateness and a blindness to interconnectivity. This illusion occasions great suffering, an immense pain that the separate ego, individual or collective, must constantly strive to overcome. Always, it uses the wrong method ' and struggles to become stronger, more self-contained and to extend its grasp. Not content with ruining itself, it ruins the world around it. It functions as a cancer, a spreading disease. It mobilizes every strand for its own inferior and sickly purpose, and undoes the miracle of creation, like some black rot will a fruit from the inside. There's a hole in the ozone. The tropical reefs are dying. Swaths of the American West are poisoned with radioactivity. The Arctic is melting.
This is the way the separate self treats the most exquisite natural ecosystems. It similarly abuses children, batters loved ones ' corrupts religions. A whole religion can and does go wrong when the egoic mind worms its way in, lodges in important positions in the hierarchy, rises to the top ' takes over. Nations go wrong in the same way, and institutions, and individuals. None of us come away clean. We're all in this up to our neck. But the instant we emerge from the illusion of a separate self, our behavior changes. Grace and compassion fill the world as we begin to live in a way that honors the connectivity between us.
This transformation is happening everywhere today. It -- not silly Islamic terrorism or bungling American hegemony -- is the main item on the global agenda at this time. If it didn't happen now, mankind would not survive ' that simple. Neither would chimpanzees, swordfish, California condors, or whales.
We are on the point of turning a really massive destruction around by transcending the state of mind that brought it about. We've ruined the Earth. We've done damage to each other. And now ' its happening everywhere ' individual by individual, we're discovering we all belong together and are part and party of the same fabric. One by one, we are reordering our affairs in such a way that the planet and the human community can become healthy once more.
We've subverted and twisted every sacred tradition into its opposite. And now ' its happening everywhere ' one person after another is beginning to stop looking for the problem outside and start seeing that the illusion of separateness is the root problem. 'We' are not apart from 'them.' We serve ourselves by serving them. Anything we get at their expense ' we will pay for dearly down the line.
Individual by individual ' all over the world ' is undergoing a change of heart and redirecting his or her life so that it honors and pays tribute to all religions, cultures, nations, races and species.
The Tibetan Buddhist monk picks up a caterpillar struggling across the trail and puts it safely on the other side so that it won't be stepped on. This is the state of mind that alone will put an end to the lunacy of terrorism and to the greed, arrogance and selfishness of the West. Reconciliation won't come about with high-tech armies or smart bombs, deluded suicide fanatics or homicidal maniacs hiding away in caves and directing global conspiracies. It will happen, and already is rapidly and silently -- one person at a time, them and us the same, in an exponential fashion. It cannot fail and nothing can stop it -- because what unites us all is stronger than what divides.
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