This article was originally written by Drs. Jerry Jampolsky and Diane Cirincione on September 12, 2001. It was mailed to the New York Times as a Letter to the Editor, in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Like millions of people all over the world, we have been in a state of shock, bewilderment and dismay, with feelings of great sadness, grief, and anger that anything this outrageous could ever happen. We, our nation, and the world are sharing a grief process that has such magnitude that it defies description.
Part of the grief we are all feeling has to do with getting in touch with all of our emotions and being able to share them with others. Anger is often a part of the grief process. We, as people who have worked in the death and dying and grief areas through Attitudinal Healing for over 25 years, know how very important it has been for those in grief to be aware of our anger and to share our feelings without attacking others with our anger. Grief is a process that for most of us takes time. It encompasses stages of denial, shock, anger, confusion, deep sadness, and more.
Sometimes some of us become attached to our anger and we want to retaliate immediately. We want to make other people hurt as we have been hurt. Perhaps this early part of the grieving process is not the time to make decisions for revenge and retaliation. Perhaps it is a time for a spiritual awakening, a time when we call on a Loving God, a Higher Power, to help us find a creative solution to the injustice, anger and fear that we are experiencing. It is not sign of weakness to feel compassion not only for the victims and their families of this calamity, but for all the people in the world who are suffering.
Is it not possible for us to have a gigantic heart full of compassion and love rather than to carry the big stick of revenge? Is it possible that retaliation might not help to heal the world but could actually only render more pain, making matters worse?
Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, and Nelson Mandela did not exercise hate, anger and retaliation for all the tragedy and deaths that had occurred to their people. Rather than concentrating on the problem, they concentrated on the solution by bringing a power greater than ourselves into the equation. They felt the power of Peace and Love, and eventually Forgiveness, to be fundamental to the healing process for all the pain and grief that had been endured.
We pride ourselves in having a great country, with freedoms others only dream of. Yet we are not perfect, and perhaps part of the solution is to look at our nation’s errors and our personal mistakes of the past, correct them, and forgive our past. Absolutely nothing justifies even the thought of the heinous crimes that have occurred. It is important for each of us to search and find the deeper root causes of these malicious manifestations of others hate and revenge. We must certainly track down these terrorists and stop them. While they must be brought to justice, will that end and solve the underlying problem? Hardly. Problems are not solved at the level of the problem. More violence does not solve violence. We must raise above the level of the problem to another level to find the solution. To find that solution we must go deeply inside and reach to the place where we connect with our Higher Power, by whatever name it is known to us. There, and perhaps only there, will we find our own connection to the problem--as well as our connection to the solution.
Let’s avoid any tendency to be myopic by failing to see larger solutions at hand. Events that change the course of our lives or the course of history are never simplistic. There are always multiple layers of lessons and learning and hopefully, transformation that emerge over time. We each have a responsibility to honor all of our fears, anger, deep losses, sadness, and frustration, all of which are so important to the healing process. Likewise, each of these areas are influenced by events at hand. We also have a spiritual responsibility to not let those emotions, our most powerful tool, be manipulated and used to foster agendas that we cannot, in our own hearts and minds, endorse. It is imperative that while the current level of force, security, and lock down is vitally necessary, make no mistake that we are currently under complete government control, down to internet and phone communications. While this may well be necessary at this stage of the game for security reasons, it is imperative in a democracy that it also be time limited.
This is a time for prayers and asking for help to be a vehicle for bringing Light into a world that seems at the moment to be in greater darkness than we have never seen before. It is a time to ask for God's help to bring more love and compassion into the world through our own lives. It is a time to look at our own relationships and to heal those relationships, where we are still holding on to anger and rage. It is a time to be patient as we learn to find more creative and loving, rather than destructive, solutions to the difficult problems that we in the world face.
Let us join together and not get stuck in the anger and hate of who is the strongest. Let us instead seek to be the most compassionate, the most caring, the most loving and the most peaceful. Let each of us take personal responsibility for exposing and healing our own thoughts, attitudes, and shadows. Let us join hands and step into the Light together, a transparent and, therefore, translucent reflection of each other. As each of us heals, the world heals with us.
Love & Peace,
Jerry and Diane