In recent weeks we have witnessed a significant dose of terrorist activity – “we” being France and other parts of the world as well. Shootings and bombings never remain isolated in the geographic sense of the word as news highlights and reactions on social media reach us 24 hours a day/seven days a week. (I’ve spelled that out because “24/7” is so automatic that it’s almost lost its significance in recent years.) So, the “we” is really everyone – even if you live under a rock or if your head is stuck in the sand with the other end of you up in the air. The energy of terror can still be felt.
I appreciate the tools we have at our disposal to accomplish this level of communication. It is truly extraordinary. What concerns me at another level, however, is that what gets transmitted is more than facts or even speculation and interpretation of events and motivations. We do, in fact, transmit the energy of terror, and somehow, when that happens, terrorism is winning.
If you’ve ever experienced terror, then you know that it’s not simply anxiety or fear. It’s much, much bigger than that. It’s an energy that grips your whole being in the face of what’s happening to you that is beyond your control and is an immanent threat to your life. It is more than fear of the possibility of death, because there are no possibilities. The situation you face is a certainty.
Witnessing the terrorist events in Paris through the media is different than being there but great journalism does its best to target the emotional as well as cognitive centers in us. So we share a bit of this energy of terror. And our experience is an isolating one that causing a contraction in our bodies – all aspects of the body including our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual selves. This energy is one that triggers the impulse to do whatever can be done to protect the living, breathing body we inhabit. It is not an energy that supports connection with others, but one that defines and separates the individual.
The more we as observers, however removed we think we are, tune into this energy of terror, the easier it may be ultimately to buy into the notion that we are all separate. It can foster a sense that, ‘While I feel your pain from afar, I must preserve my own personal being, family, town, city or country.” This intention to preserve requires distancing oneself from an energy that terrorizes and that means letting go the sense that we (this “we” being all of humanity) are interconnected, interdependent and share a common ground on this planet.
It will take some effort on all our parts not to give in, to remember that the way forward to a world beyond terrorism is through the wisdom of connection. The understanding that there is no separation among peoples is critical if we are to bring forth an environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling presence on this earth.