Last night and the night before, I had a rather gut-wrenching television experience; on the National Geographic Channel I watched the series described in the following link: (A Dry-Eyed New Look at an All-Too-Familiar Horror – New York Times). The NYT Arts section characterizes the programs as a “compendium of the facts on the matter.”
After almost four years the facts and the terrorist characters are still horrifying. I read the 9/11 Commission Report from cover to cover when it first came out; it contained only a few visual images. This documentary contained all the significant images and sounds, which is very different. My eyes did not stay dry, my hands became moist, and my stomach churned. Terror works to create anxiety, unfortunately, even when it is only revisited on TV. Eventually, however, some people just shut down. But that is not a healthy psychological response.
What can we ordinary Americans actually do about it; and what is IT?
President Bush has tied the United States responce to “9/11” to his attack on Iraq. What are we as citizens to do about that, if we believe he was in error?
- Work for empowerment – Starting with ourselves as individuals, we can stay active and involved, rejecting passivity. As the old story goes, courage is not about being unafraid, but about which direction one runs. Active women and men are powerfully courageous for themselves and for us. We all can help, one by one by one.
- Share information – Information is power. As we spend time reading, listening, being online, and communicating with those in our circles, we can try to get past our most glaring biases to ascertain the truth about what happened (to get us into the war with Iraq, for instance), and what is happening now. Iraq is training ground for terrorists happens to be one of my truths. Juliette Kayyem at TPMCafe has her truth on the question of Iraq. What are your truths?
- Hold government officials accountable – Congress represents us all, much more than the executive branch. As an institution Congress is not exercising that authority well. We can all learn how to let elected officials know what we want them to do. When the power of constituency is exercised it brings about change. The Senate and House will come back to work soon. What is happening with them?Here is what some of those officials are doing these days: 1) reference to Republican Senator Chuck Hagel’s changing views; 2) reference to Democratic Senator Russ Feingold’s views on withdrawal from Iraq; contact information for Michigan’s courageous Democratic Representative John Conyers; and 3) a favorite blogger, Daily Kos‘, reference to the Democrats’ internal disagreements. Here are some blogosphere ideas about what Congress could do: Middle East expert, Professor Juan Cole in his Informed Comment blog lists ten things Congress can demand. Gilbert Cranberg, writing in the 8/20/05 DesMoines Register, advocates more Congressional oversight. What do you need for Congress to do? Do you know how to directly communicate your views?
- Live mindfully – and perhaps prayerfully. If we only pay attention to our bodies and our minds as we decide what to do about it, we will neglect the third most powerful aspect of empowerment, that of spirituality. Prayer and meditation serve as ways of regaining internal peace. I was raised as a Christian, and have also found Eastern philosophies to be helpful. “Peace is Every Step”, by Thich Nhat Hanh is a good book, as is “Wherever You Go There You Are”, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.