Well, FIRST Tarot.
I'm still coming back to Earth after a world-turning weekend at the Reader's Studio. A swift lesson that I've been trying to avoid for months--even if you study Theology, even if you run a group, it is NOT a substitute for doing your own self-work. So now, armed with more things to reflect upon and investigate, I wade through the Beltaine tides (which have led to some very embarrassing Freudian "slips" at work...) and embrace the brightest part of the year in hopes that it will shine its light on the places in my soul that need illumination.
The Death of Bin Laden
This epic conclusion to the nearly mythic search for Bin Laden has shaken up painful memories for many from the tragic September day. The news broadcast cheering the streets of New York (I was asleep on my couch, processing my weekend), but much of it was mixed with tears. Facebook (stupid Facebook...) exploded with conspiracy theories, arguments as to whose victory it "really was," joy, anger, attempts at peace.
Revenge, for lack of a better term, is a complicated state. We fantasize about seeking revenge on those who have harmed us. Some of us may even receive the opportunity to reap what we consider revenge. But revenge is a shallow victory. It can feed the ego, but it leaves the soul in an extended feeling of hunger and want. During our trials of suffering at the hands of others, our souls are promised healing once revenge has been completed or "justice served." But when those moments come, the satisfaction is fleeting. Revenge does not undo the suffering we've undergone. It does not replace what was lost. Bin Laden's death may be providing closure for those who lost family and friends in 9/11--but it does not bring those lost back to life. Nor does it re-write the past ten years as glorious ones, filled with laughter and light instead of grief and pain. The soul is still left suffering after the revenge is complete, without the promise of an end in sight.
So what is the other option? Forgiveness? As a young Christian, I would grit my teeth and do my best to forgive the bullies that taunted me at school. Sometimes, I would succeed in doing so, only to be bullied again. I would "turn the other cheek" so friggin' often and simply allow the bullying to continue because in my young mind, it was the "good, Christian thing to do." Yet, there were also times both in my childhood and adult life, when someone who had done me wrong came forward with a heartfelt apology and I forgave them. And there have been individuals who harmed me in my past who never did apologize, and yet in hindsight I was able to forgive them. I am very thankful for those who have forgiven me when I've done stupid-ass things. The gift of forgiveness is peace in one's own soul. We no longer have to carry hot and self-poisonous grudges and perhaps we can even start anew in our own journeys with the people that either we've hurt or that have hurt us.
But the problem with forgiveness is the assumption that it's always necessary or always good. Can any of us really ask a woman who has been brutally raped to forgive her attackers? Or, back to the subject at hand, will it really serve anyone who suffered a loss in 9/11 any good to forgive Bin Laden for plotting the monstrous attacks? Would we be encouraging healing or the suppression of one's own pain? It is not fair to comfort one by saying it's part of their journey to experience that pain, or promise them that it will make them stronger. It minimizes and trivializes their experience.
When it seems impossible to forgive a person, group or situation who has harmed us, the only tool we can embrace is acceptance. We accept that a pain occurred. We also have to eventually accept that there may never be an answer to why something painful happened to us or those we love. Accepting does not mean condoning. Accepting also does not mean forgetting. But accepting that a pain happened may allow us to move forward and stop existing in the "Why did this happen? Why would this happen to me???" We accept that we will not know the answers, but we also accept the reality that our pain can be temporary, if we allow it to be.
My heart goes out to those who suffered directly or indirectly due to the attacks of 9/11. I am not excited about Bin Laden's death, as I do not believe his death will truly alleviate the suffering of the present. But nor do I mourn his death. Yes, he was a person--but he was a person who caused severe suffering and perhaps I am not compassionate enough to mourn the loss of a person who committed those acts. But what I do feel is hope that a benefit of this situation is the closure for those who suffered because of it, and hope that it moves forward the healing process. I hope those who lost are not pushing themselves to forgive Bin Laden, if they feel they cannot. But I do hope that all who suffered can reach a place of acceptance.
Peace, blessings and healing to all in this Light time of the year.