I was born into a world at war. Not a big war like WW2 but a war against ‘terrorists’. It was the Mau Mau insurrection in Kenya and we listened to stories of horror and slaughter. Each night at the farm we fired up the two way radio and checked in with all the other farmers to make sure they were not under attack. Occasionally Dad and his mates would drive around the area fully armed to make sure everyone knew who was in charge. Later it turned out most of the horror stories were untrue and gradually common sense and maybe a little decency took over. Finally the terrorists became freedom fighters and it turned out we were the bad guys having taken others’ land, culture, religion and anything else we fancied.
There are two points I want to make about the current Israel – Palestine situation. The first is one of those life lessons people learn over and over. Let’s start by asking the question, how come a country renowned for its intelligence services was so taken by surprise by a group of people they almost totally control, have surrounded, with informers they recruit by whatever means? The Hamas attack must have involved months of planning. It is reminiscent of the 9/11 attack on New York when the CIA would play recordings in their foyer of Bin Laden speaking with his mother as a reminder of their total intelligence superiority – and yet they never saw it coming. Israel never saw it coming; others did and even tried to warn them but the surprise was total.
When a company, a group or even a country live by competition and win at it they become the best, the smartest. When you are winning because of your obvious superiority then you become blind and deaf, because when you are the best who do you listen to? The answer is no one, so when your inferiors tell you that an attack is planned you don’t hear it. Then when it happens the shock is so profound that you immediately go into reaction and vow to destroy the people you consider responsible.
This takes me to my second point which is that people go into reaction because of how they feel, and the stronger the feelings the stronger the reaction. Let’s consider how the Israelis felt when they were attacked. Enraged, frightened, devastated, powerless, hateful – each one of us could add other powerful emotions and all of them negative. So it becomes obvious that their reaction would be strongly shocked and totally justified in their minds. Now keeping in mind that everyone acts because of how they feel then the question arises, how were the Palestinians feeling that they did what they did? Enraged, frightened, devastated, powerless, hateful – basically the same.
How did the people in New York feel after 9/11? Well, the same as the people who flew those planes. The US reaction then was to destroy those they believed responsible and we know how well that worked and how much that cost.
Now we stand on the brink of a repeat and yet at no time has anyone suggested that if we cleansed ourselves of these negative feelings we could build a safer world. Instead of reacting to these situations we could learn to respond, each of us taking responsibility for our unconscious hatred and fear before it gets triggered by some outside event and before the unconscious again goes to war with the conscious.
If we don’t find a better response we will keep laying down layers of corrosive and destructive feelings and emotions for ourselves and for those who follow after us. We often hear people question why we need to ‘do therapy’ to heal or purify, and the answer is so that we stop not only our dysfunction but the dysfunction we see in the world around us. We teach that there are no bad guys; a world of good guys and bad guys is a reflection of those two parts of us. Imagine if we just had the emotions and feelings of the first day of our lives; then we would be benign because there is no such thing as a bad baby and that is true for us all.
Taking sides does not help. When I heard our own Prime Minister say he was on the side that did not bomb children or hospitals or schools or even churches then the blindness and deafness became a scream. There are no bad guys, just guys you would prefer to have lunch with and bless the rest. The world is in a mess and is screaming out for us to do our part, starting with our deep healing of our rage and hatred. That is something every one of us could do in the face of our powerlessness.
Jeff and Sue