September 11: We Have To Be The Leaders

As many analysts have noted, on September 11 the United States truly became a member of the global community. The emerging planetary village could no longer afford the isolation of the US. Within the horror of the tragedy, therefore, is the silver lining of the American people now feeling themselves to be part of the world, part of the emotional fabric of the planet. Much of their trauma, I believe, comes from the sudden and painful emotional sensation that their wealth and power can no longer keep them, or us, safe or isolated from global realities. The American dream cannot be dreamed in isolation.

The actual event was terrible and many are still frightened, angry and in distress, but it has a historical significance, is meaningful and carries hope. This is part of building a liberated and humane global community. It will have deep and beneficial political ramifications far into the future. All nations have felt this and are moving into greater community. In the great flow of world history, this is a moment similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall or the walk to freedom of Nelson Mandela.

Why It Happened

As many commentators appreciate, the roots of this crisis are very old and entwined with many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years of global politics, state expansion and the rise of modern commerce and consumerism. Faced with an endless stream of images and goals which they cannot possibly achieve, many millions of people on the planet feel bitter, rejected and suppressed. To give their life meaning and for a sense of psychological dignity, they adopt ideologies that reject Western values and they will fight those who seem to oppress them. This is a powerful and furious psychological dynamic which has been the source of many wars and revolutions. At the same time, ancient clan and national identities, which imperial armies and map-drawers repressed, are seeking their space.

Like shoots and roots from a seed they will push powerfully through obstructions. There is immense collective karma happening here. The great waves of change and of history – the creation of the modern world – have hurt so many. Professional students of international politics have been expecting terrorist events of this kind for at least three decades. The surprise was only in its spectacle. The healing of these ancient wounds will take time and great care.

What Can We Do Practically?

This event is, I hope, a step towards understanding and ending some of our own innocence and naivet‚. In the context of history and the web of life, we are none of us isolated from the rest of the world. It is only too clear that without the great Hollywood disaster-and-hero movies, the terrorists might never have even imagined such a scenario. All of us who have enjoyed this seemingly innocent and entertaining culture of violence need to understand what we feed into the world psyche. This is a call for higher awareness, not censorship.

Although our local shopping habits are innocent, they also feed into a global structure that is violent in so many ways. Child labor, slave wages, unjust distribution of resources, famine. Millions of men and women feel that they have no real life chances, no opportunity to fulfil themselves. Whether we like it or not, we collude with this violence if our consumerism is thoughtless. This does not tell people what to purchase; it is only asking for a higher awareness. I believe that those teachers and writers who encourage people to achieve success and wealth without any awareness of the wider social and economic realities, need to think again – especially if they claim spirituality. It is good that a clear campaign will be fought against the fanatical terrorists, but ultimately this war will not be won through force of arms but through winning the hearts and minds of those who already live in fear, poverty and alienation. The shock being felt by so many people is not because our "civilization" has been threatened. The shock comes from a knowing in the collective unconscious that our lifestyle has been fatally challenged. A collective karma has been created by thoughtless and ostentatious consumerism; it has also been created by violent entertainment. It is by individual acts that we can change all this. We have to be the leaders.

William Bloom is one of England's leading holistic teachers and an associate of the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland.