By the time you receive this e-note, things will have changed. We never know from moment to moment what may happen.
At this moment, I am horrified by the atrocities and grievously saddened by the ongoing killings in Israel and Palestine.
I have friends in both places. What can I do to ease their anguish? -- to stop the violence? I commiserate with my Jewish friends, with my Palestinian friends. I write letters, make phone calls, walk in the streets, pray for ceasefire. But the bombings and killings continue. They intensify.
One afternoon last week I realized that my sadness was more than I could bear. Rage was consuming my brain, my gut, was making me physically sick. Nightmares plagued me and I myself felt the urge to kill.
What is rage? I looked up the root of the word rage: from Latin, rabies = madness, from rabere, to be mad; akin to Sanskrit rabbas = violence; archaic = insanity…. What a colossal waste of energy.
I stopped to breathe. Went outside. Walked around the block. Took a nap. Looked out the window.
Suddenly I remembered a retreat I had been on decades ago. The retreat leader Sharon Salzberg asked, Who do you hate…. now?… Bring them up. See them… Send them loving-kindness…
I remember how difficult that was…. How could I send loving-kindness to those evil people?…. Impossible! Sharon said, Really see them…. Let them come to you….
I stayed with it. Unexpectedly I saw them as children, as little ones…and my brain and gut responded differently.
That memory unfroze me. It was possible to ask: Who is the target of my rage now?
Answers rush in:
- my country -- for manufacturing the weapons that have killed millions of people in so many countries, weapons that right now are killing thousands of innocents in the Mideast and on our city streets
- President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken
- Hamas chiefs
- Benjamin Netanyahu
I struggle to see them…to send them loving-kindness…so difficult… Suddenly they come to me as infants – little Joe, cute Tony, tiny Hamas chief, baby Bibi… My eyes soften …I cradle them, soothe them, muss their hair… Poor babies, they are so scared…they are my brothers…My heart softens…send them love…
Will that do any good? I don’t know. But I do know that carrying hatred and rage do not.
Wherever you are now, I cannot know your feelings. I pray that you are safe.
I pray that we somehow come to a place where we realize we are all sisters and brothers, that every child – no matter where born – has the right to walk down their street safely and to grow into a healthy adult who will care for their children and the world.
THE KILLING MUST STOP.
WE ARE KILLING OURSELVES.