An Invitation to the Fertile-Peace-Maker in Each of Us.
I was at the juice bar this morning. “You look so good!” I said to Kyla the friendly waitress behind the counter. I added a few more comments about the color of her dress and how well it suited her. “All this love-making so early in the morning,”said the elderly gentleman sitting at the nearby table.
“Hmm, yeah, I guess you’re right,” I replied, ” this too is a way of making love.”
We have so many ways of making war; maybe we do have to expand the list of ways we make love.
It’s been a while since my last blog. Life, teaching, writing, family — call for my presence, and I have to choose my priorities. So I’ve surrendered to the idea that this too, I’ll have to do in my way and in my own time. Return to the blog when it flags me down as it did today.
You see today is a miracle of sorts for me. It’s the 11th of the month. That means, it’s the day I go and bow in a public place for my 9/11 Bowing Project. And today is also Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day that commemorates one of the most shameful chapters in human history. A chapter in my family’s history that has been central in shaping my life.
This weekend I had the privilege to attend a series of lectures with a visiting German scholar, Thorsten Wagner. The series was dedicated to the journey of the German people to move from denial and willful oblivion toward a sincere attempt to come to terms with their Nazi past.
The lectures of this remarkable young man were an extraordinary gift to me on so many levels. I also learned about one striking piece of history that was both devastating and a source of hope.
Thorsten talked about the improvisational nature of the process that finally led to the murder of millions. Contrary to the popular belief that Hitler had a clear plan which was then gradually executed, Thorsten cited evidence that many of the pivotal events during Hitler’s rise to power, were initiated by grassroots groups. He talked about the “creativity” of the men in the field, who “learned by doing” and then proposed suggestions to their higher-ups on the most effective solutions to ridding Germany of the unwanted elements of Jews, Gypsies, Communists and homosexuals.
So it’s not as though there was a “gang of demons” who forced the rest of the good citizens to perform unthinkable acts of cruelty. It was the harnessing of age-old hatred of “the Other” that was part of the collective consciousness that made the genocide possible.
The theme of the roots of violence has been an obsession of mine, and Thorsten’s words were a validation of my own long-held feelings about the subject. Primarily, the idea that small groups of emotionally engaged individuals have immense power in charting the course of history.
What has also been true for me, and was so beautifully validated by Thorsten this weekend, was that real healing, must also be initiated by people, rather than governments or academic institutions. I was awestruck by the images of the most moving, provocative memorials in Berlin, which are the physical expressions of the national soul-searching.
So on this day of a personal miracle, when two of the memorials dear to me, fall on the same date, I’m extending an invitation to all of you. Here is what I propose: Originally one of the aspects of the 9/11 Bowing Projects was to declare September 11, the International Day of Compassion. But as it turned out, the day had already been claimed and named the Day of Service and Remembrance. Does that mean we need to give up?
Our wisdom traditions teach that we are meant to turn curses into blessings. Why not “turn it around, from 9/11 to 11/9?. Why not declare 11/9 the International Day of Compassion?