It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the fateful day that forever changed the world as we knew it. America remains mired in two ensuing wars that have cost thousands of lives and wreaked havoc on our economy. Just a couple of months ago we finally nailed the "big one," helping to bring closure for many.
Yet, do we feel any safer? Has the world become more stable?
In both personal and international relations, our species remains stuck in separation and projection, making each other wrong, fearing and mistrusting of "the other." How much longer will we walk around with anger and resentment in our hearts, feeling wronged and victimized? Forgiveness is an act of personal liberation. Not doing it keeps us stuck in the past. One payoff is that we get to be right. Another is that by feeling victimized we avoid responsibility and having to look at whatever role we played in whichever drama. For these payoffs we pay a high price. Every time we place or keep ourselves in victim mode, we forfeit our power.
"Love your enemy" remains as radical a message today as it was 2,000 years ago. To me, it means keeping our heart open no matter what, even if we are hurting or feeling betrayed or threatened. We choose to keep our hearts open whether our love interest calls or not, whether we have rent covered for next month or not, whether our job is at risk or our house is in foreclosure. At its most challenging, it means keeping our hearts open to the bin Ladens of the world, not to mention that loathsome and abominable co-worker. Of course, this does not mean we have to be chummy with or even like these people, but we no longer allow them that much power over our own heart. For the heart cannot be closed selectively or just to some.
Ultimately, this is not about anyone else. It is between me and my heart, me and life, me and the universe. My job, my commitment, is to maintain my heart open, no matter what. This is far from easy -- in fact, it is nothing less than a heroic act. And these times call for nothing less than heroism.
How do we begin to heal that sense of separation and soften the harsh judgments that keep us apart? Again, not easy to do. It is so much easier to blame the other, make them wrong and splatter them against the wall. Yet, if we want peace in the world, it must begin within.
Spiritual teachings tell us that we are all one, that we are all in this together, and that whatever we see so clearly "over there" is "in here," as well. That is the essence of projection. One practice that helps when we find ourselves judging or making another wrong is telling ourselves, "I too have been that way," or "given a different set of circumstances, over which I had no control, perhaps I too could have turned out that way."
This is particularly hard to do when it comes to violent criminals or "those terrorists." Does that really mean "I, too, am that"? Well, here is one area to explore how we might be being "like that": What acts of emotional or spiritual violence has my inner terrorist committed -- if not on others, then on myself? What havoc has he/she wreaked on my life or the lives of others? Whoops. Time to face the shadow.
We've gotten the big terrorist, but it's the little, inner terrorists that are harder to flush out from their caves. That, too, is the stuff of heroes.
Releasing judgments and the need to be right, developing the ability to forgive and keep our hearts open are key steps on the path to inner peace and liberation. In these stressful, challenging and perilous times, may all beings experience peace. May we all be free.
Christian de la Huerta is the author of "Coming Out Spiritually" and the forthcoming "The Soul of Power." www.SoulfulPower.com