Posts Tagged ‘ Sep 11 ’

Journal 09-24-03

Reading more from the Utne articles about choices, I found other interesting connections that I have discussed separately in my journal in and in class.  Karen Olson admits the cause of out anxiety may be cultural or it may be fear.  Phillip Moffitt of the Yoga Journal coined the post-September 11 societal climate as an Age of Fear.

My mom is a psychologist who is completing her doctoral thesis on post-traumatic stress disorder.  Her take on this goes beyond the definitions I (and perhaps others) assume that it is a post war disorder, discovered or studies primarily in veteran soldiers.  She takes it further account for victims of child abuse (physical, sexual, and emotional), car accident survivors, those who have experienced the death of a loved one, divorce or any other significantly traumatic event.  Friends and I were discussing this and the tie to September 11th, that the entire country is likely suffering from the traumatic event of that day, from the atrocity our government’s response, from the fact that the worldwide protests against the war in Iraq were dismissed, and we can be described as suffering from this in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder.  If you have never read about post-traumatic stress disorder cases (I’m thinking of my own experience just from watching a war movie once), imagine a victim incapable of normal daily communication function, suffering from outburst of emotion, flashbacks, nightmares, etc., living in fear of their memories and experience.  This seems to be where many of us are today.  Helpless. Helplessly hoping that some vague movement of truth will prevail that will give us a new president in the next election (at least this is what my group of friends were discussing).  But the vague feeling exists I think on a larger scale.  People are traumatized to the point where they cannot find solutions.  The ultimate suffering might be that we hope, but we have lost the ability to know how achieve results.

That seems to match the state the Karen Olson describes, that our multiplicity of choice has caused so much anxiety, that not making a decision gives the impression of weakness.  It is in a sense a weakness.  But to view that weakness as a negative trait is characteristic of and compounds the problem itself.

Journal 09-11-03

I didn’t post this [in the class discussion] tonight because I couldn’t quite formulate my thoughts about it.  It isn’t suprising given the anniversary of September 11, that these thoughts would be coming to the surface and that I would be emotional more than rational.  So given that pretext…

Ultimately this is about what we say and what we do.  Response to tragedy and the communicative structure of democracy as a whole.

On issues of foreign students — in the sense of labeling a group of people — and terrorism,  I thought again about the concept of terrorism that is NOT from the outside in.  I know this has already been said, that an example of such terrorism from within is Timothy McVeigh.  But what happens when it is said?  Where does it go?  Does anyone listen — more importantly, does anyone understand?  I can remember thinking this after September 11, 2000 and after reading a few things quoted from Martin Luther King Jr.  I couldn’t believe it.  These things were so relevant and full of truth.  And yet here we were as a country, as a people, no different, not changed to any significant degree, still unable to cope with such pain and suffering — and honestly, probably incapable of truly making anything out of those words except to feel comfort.  I wonder if that was what people felt at the time they were first spoken.  Just consolation?

So what about Timothy McVeigh? How do we fight terrorism on perpetrated American soil by American citizens?  What does this say about our communication, among government agencies, about preparedness for such disasters?  And what about the “why”?  Why did an American commit such an act against his ourn people?  Why did non-American citizens commit such an act?  But these types of questions only cause confusion and turmoil.  But I do not fear to say that the truth is this: Our failure to answer these questions is what will lead to further turmoil.

We have begun to do this.  The answer our government is providing is that the terrorists are just terrorist — crazy, mad and financially supported by other terrorists.  Crazy, I suppose, means that we can give up most of the responsibility for feeling or understanding these events.  If not for the events, then at least for the responsibility to think about what lies behind the event.  I think there is more to be uncovered in the search both for the safety and well-being of American, as well as an understanding of and coping with tragedy.  I want to be clear, too, that I think it perfectly sensible and understandable to chalk it up to “crazy”.  It was a senseless act committed by persons with completely different beliefs.  But it is this last part that I think becomes crucial for then asking, “What do I believe?”.  Why do these beliefs conflict? Is there truth outside both of these beliefs?  If we are not willing to ask these questions, if we cannot handle to learn something (and continue to learn things) from tragedy, from history, fine.  But then the more rational solution right now, in my opinion, is to deal more exclusively with the homefront, OUR vulnerabilities (architecturally, strategically, financially). Fix those things here and NOT go into another culture we obviously know little to nothing about and rebuild it to match ours! Yikes!  The “war on terrorism” and “fighting terrorism” IS terrorism.  Here again, we say this.  But, how can we get away with such hypocrisy?  How can the largest worldwide protest of this war go ignored?

How much does the quote at the beginning of Are We Spiritual Machines have to say about this:

Truth is great and will prevail if left to herself…She is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error and has noting to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition is disarmed of her natural weapons: free argument and debate.

Journal 09-02-03

I posted on the discussion list for the first time tonight.  While at first I felt shy, by the end I was confident and comfortable.  I still think and wonder, though, about that quote and putting my ignorance out there for everyone to hit.

I got on a big “fear” kick, which had brought me then to this question:  When (or) is fear healthy or necessary, or of any value?  Is it ever?  What about what said of the positive side of the Patriot Act?  What it of value in response to September 11th?  Has it made our plane travel safer in a positive and free way?  Can freedom and fear co-exist?

I think it all depends on your definition of fear and likewise, your definition of weakness. I believe the two are inextricably mixed.  I was reading a book called Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom.  In it he provides a reminder of St. Paul’s words: “My power is manifest in my weakness.”  and continues by making clear his own definition of weakness. I think, while the context Bloom uses is prayer and connection with God, the definition is relevant.    He says it is not the weakness we show by sinning and forgetting God, or even as the OED’s definition of weak-minded: mentally deficient, or weakness: self-indulgent thinking.  Rather, Bloom affirms Paul’s statement to refer to weakness which means completely supply, completely transparent, completely abandoned in the hands of God.  This is not unlike how we should be when learning something new.   If we bring out own biases, or will to be right, or ego into a new situation, we will undoubtedly run into frustration — if not externally in relation to others, at least within ourselves.  And new situations, lack of knowledge, or experience, or control can be scary.  This is a very small statement considering the effect September 11th had on people and I don’t mean to sum it up as merely a new situation, as it is so much more.  But I guess what I think Anthony Bloom is defining is that freedom and fear do co-exist.  But is freedom self-indulgence? Is fear weakness?  These are hard thoughts to practice, especially when American’s freedom these days seems to be the definition of sin (forgetting God) whether the world believes it or not.

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