Do You Reconcile the Message of NDEs With Terrorist Events?
By Jody, NDERF. 9/16/01
In a time where it may seem that the NDE messages of love and compassion appear
irreconcilable with recent terrorist attacks on the United States, there is a
framework that may be useful for healing. There are many emotions and many
questions. One of the hardest
things to reconcile is how to lovingly and compassionately engage in war against
terrorists and countries that harbor and train terrorists.
Another problem was, how do you reconcile irreconcilable differences
between two different ideologies of life? One
way to heal emotions is to individually collect our own thoughts and write them
down. Everyone will process the
events differently. I realized that my processing came from news input and
emotions as viewed through the lens of good and evil.
writing represents my struggles in reconciliation in hopes that it will help
others to find their own path to make sense out of the recent events and come to
peace within themselves.
blush, I�m not sure you can compare apples with oranges.
But, on closer examination, what I see is an amazing spectrum of human
behavior ranging from all that is good and compassionate in humanity, to the
unspeakable horror and evil that exists within some people.
Experiences (NDEs) represent the collective wisdom brought back when a person is
resuscitated after experiencing clinical, physical death.
Most people who experience NDEs come back with remarkably similar
impressions of the afterlife. The messages that we read about talk of such immense �love
times one million,� the interconnection of all life, and the all-knowing and
all compassionate love of the infinite being.
The other two remarkably similar observations are that there are lessons
to learn on earth and these lessons center on the quality of our relationships
with other people. The logical
extension is that individual relationships are a microcosm of what we see
between nations. Those who
have experienced NDEs (NDErs) talk of �good� and �love� in terms of
spiritual growth and our true home.
On the other
hand, Dr. Peck, did an amazing expose of evil in his book, �People of the
Lie.� (Simon & Schuster,
NY, 1985) He talked about
characteristics of evil in individuals and as a group mentality. The reason that I will spend more time talking about evil
rather than the spirituality of good, is that most people, although exposed to
evil, have not had the exposure of studying or classifying evil behavior.
Typically, the study of evil is taboo outside religious circles and not a
subject of professional discussion in our culture.
A common understanding of the nature of evil is necessary before one can
reconcile the message of NDEs with the current terrorist events.
highlights of �People of the Lie,� can be summarized in a few paragraphs,
but by no means does justice to the thoroughness and psychological investigation
done by Dr. Peck over the past few decades.
For those with more interest, I would urge them to read the entire book.
For purposes of the discussion, a simplistic definition for evil acts are
those that separate, fragment us from God, as opposed to loving acts which are
those that bring us closer, in union with God.
behavior is characterized as masterful hiding of evil deeds from detection.
Evil is adept at being held non-accountable by deflecting responsibility
for individual decisions or actions. Evil
behaviors are such that evil will do anything to survive and has the highly
developed skill to hide or mutate to avoid being exposed.
Evil regresses thinking and reduces behavior to emotional knee-jerk
responses such as anger, fear, and revenge.
Moreover, evil must always be in control of all situations and so often,
will exterminate the budding expressions of creativity, independent thinking,
and any form of individual or collective exercising of the will in seeking to
express that independent thought. Evil
depends on creating its own version of the world and characteristically lives in
a world based on lies. These lies,
at a fundamental level, are core personality traits in all behaviors that mask
truth. Essentially, these people
see the world through rose-colored glasses since the evil within them prevents
them from seeing the world as it truly exists.
One of the
psychological categories Dr. Peck describes is that these people are
�malignantly narcissistic� and insist upon �affirmation independent of all
findings.� Id., at 80.
This brand of narcissism �afflicts the will� and characteristically
tends to run in families. Id..
An interesting observation is that spiritual evolution and de-evolution
are both, processes of development based upon exercising the individual will in
a long series of choices. Again,
those decisions that reconnect us with each other and ultimately to God,
represent positive spiritual growth. Those
decisions that divide and separate us from each other, and ultimately God,
represent negative growth. The most
important distinction for this analysis being the difference between evil acts
and the people who commit the acts. For
within every soul, one can find a spark of the divine that connects us all.
Group evil is
a macrocosm of individual evil. Id.,
pp 212-253. Groups tend to commit
unspeakable horrors on other groups of people.
Although there are people who are normally considered good who are mixed
in with those who are not, there is a group mentality that will trigger bad
actions even from good people. One
of the causes of this phenomena is that groups are increasingly specialized.
Id., pp 217-18. Specialization
within a group contributes to immaturity, tends to aid ballooning bureaucracy
and is amazingly effective for shifting the blame between other specialized
groups. This makes it difficult for groups to accept responsibility
for individual actions.
�In this way, not only does the individual forsake his conscience
but the conscience of the group as a whole can become so fragmented and diluted
as to be nonexistent. . . . [A]ny group will remain inevitably potentially
conscienceless and evil until such time as each and every individual holds
himself or herself directly responsible for the behavior of the whole group �
the organism � of which he or she is a part.
In my own
mind, I couldn�t start to parse out what would be an appropriate response to
evil until I could deal with my own feelings.
One of the first thoughts that went through my mind when I heard the news
about the terrorist acts, was, �Retaliate! Nuke the Bastards!!!
Make them pay for the pain they have inflicted upon the U.S.!�
A day later, when presented with the initial premise of how do you
reconcile this attitude with the NDE truths espousing love and compassion for my
fellow humans, I still had much the same answer and couldn�t come up with a
different response. However, the
question was enough to make me look rationally at what I was feeling and to
determine an appropriate response more in keeping with my spiritual value
I dare say,
everyone understands that the process was not an easy task.
I felt at odds with what I mentally knew was spiritually right and the
emotions of anger, outrage that someone could do this, and fear for my
family�s future safety and that of my fellow Americans.
I was crying
when I saw the horrific scenes of the WTC collapsing and people hurt or running
in terror for their lives. I could
feel the pain of those who described seeing people jump from the WTC buildings
when faced with the decision on how to end their lives. I could feel the angst of the family members who described
phone calls from heroic flight 93. There
was sorrowful pride when they talked of their beloveds sacrificing their lives
rather than let the terrorists continue on a course of certain destruction and
loss of more U.S. lives. I was
tremendously touched by the outpouring of courage, dedication, determination,
assistance, and material goods by all facets of government and all of the
individuals in the United States. America
was united and focused on catching the perpetrators.
The shear magnitude and speed of mobilization on the part of the American
government and the citizens was staggering.
There were feelings of awe and wonder to see the unprecedented scale of
humanity at its best when called upon to act in times of national crisis.
I was glued
to the news on television and also read the internet news.
I looked at the pictures and heard the video streams.
I was amazed that Yassir Arafat, a former terrorist in my mind, would
donate blood to help the U.S. victims. I was touched by the world outpouring of
prayers and vigils for our dead and wounded.
All e-mail I received from other countries expressed their deepest
sympathies and condolences for America. So
many countries denounced the heinous terrorist actions and pledged to help us
find the perpetrators.
On a local
front, I was appalled that I heard several stories of persons residing in the
U.S. who were happy that we, as a nation had gotten what we deserved.
It made me angry that some U.S. citizens in Houston took it upon
themselves to destroy a Muslim place of worship.
I was disturbed that many U.S. citizens of Middle Eastern descent were
afraid of being hassled if they went to donate blood.
I was outraged that a teacher could embarrass a United States citizen of
Turkish descent by interrogating the student as a terrorist suspect in front of
One of the
things that surprised me was the anti-American sentiment.
We don�t usually hear these things via our media.
Part of my anger came from indignation from hearing this news for the
first time; part of it was the content of what was said.
I was angered by the number of nations and individual people who
expressed condolences for the victims, but not the United States.
Many rationalized the attack was retaliation for the U.S. being such an
arrogant world-bully. I couldn�t
believe watching a Chinese fellow calling the kettle black in wake of Tieneman
mass slaughter/human rights violations of their own people.
Who�s the bully? There were people shown partying in Palestine.
Afghanistan government issued a statement to the effect that if we attacked
them, there would be more terrorist attacks.
The spokesperson, further, could not understand why the U.S. would want
to attack such a poor country anyway. I
was angry at the denial and non-accountability. Nowhere did the statement offer to stop hosting training
camps for terrorists, nor any apology for supporting terrorists.
It reminded me of Peck�s observation that evil regresses when
responding to accusations. This was
so much a childish response that, �if you attack us, we�ll attack you.�
Nah, nah, nah-nah, nah, nah. The
fact that he could even say there will be more terrorist attacks if you come
after us, shows me that they still have ties to the terrorists and are willing
to sacrifice more lives on both sides.
response, likewise, brought feelings of indignation to my chest.
How dare he say that America and the West was the cause of world
instability and for the embargo death of 1-1/2 million Iraqis without
acknowledging their own national role in the embargo.
How could he use this tragedy to further his own political agenda?
What a classic evil response by shifting the blame and remaining
unaccountable for their own actions. He
failed to mention the governmental pig-headedness that would rather see their
own people die in large quantities than to comply with international treaties.
Iran�s statement, equally, was a classically evil response.
They immediately blamed Isreal for the terrorist acts, showing that they
really do live in a world of lies rather than to see the world as it really is.
I was given
reason to pause and refine my initial condemnation of the Middle Eastern
viewpoint by reading the questions posed by spiritual leader, Deepak Chopra and
by a story related by his son, Gotham. Deepak
Chopra asked many valid spiritually motivated questions, of which there were no
easy answers, nor did he try to spoon-feed others with proper answers.
I valued his humbleness and respect that he gave each person to answer
and ponder the questions for themselves.
relayed a story from his recent visit to a Pakistan area that borders
Afghanistan. The head-master of a
religious school treated Gotham with respect and hospitality, as one would
expect from one spiritual being to another.
The Mullah spoke, �eloquently and without hostility.�
He talked about �the history of the US and Afghanistan, how during the
Cold War, they were allies, united fighting a war against the Soviets.�
The strongest language allowing me to refine my thinking was,
gave us weapons and trained our men. You built our roads, fed our people. Do you
realize young man that your government helps to create and to fund the Taliban
because it was their interest to use Guerilla warfare and terrorist tactics
against the Russians? You made us your friend.
But then your Cold War ended and you deserted us.
Because it was no longer in your selfish interest to have us as your
allies, you abandoned us, left our people, hungry, and hateful. You turned your
friends into foes because you used us like whores.�
questioned about Mr. Bin Laden. The Mullah replied, "He's an old friend.
And a good man." Gotham asked him, "Is he a terrorist?" The reply
was, �We don't call him that here." Apparently, Bin Laden was more than just a terrorist.
He was considered a hero by many in the Middle East.
He represents ideals and lifestyles incompatible with the United States. To many, he symbolizes core Middle East values.
Bin Laden espouses Fundamentalist Islamic views that they will not rest
until all countries, chiefly the United States and Israel, are vacated from all
of the Muslim holy places, including Jerusalem.
occurred in my thinking process when trying to reconcile the message of NDEs
with my thoughts and emotions as I observed the variety of scenes described
above. The only framework that I
could make sense of what I was seeing and feeling was through the lens of love
vs. evil. Moreover, it was not as
clear-cut as to what or who constitutes evil.
I found that reconciliation was easier when I was able to distinguish
good vs. evil behavior rather than concentrate on good vs. evil people or
nations. To determine whether the
behavior or actions were ultimately good or bad, I went back to the initially
discussed definition of whether the action or behavior brings one closer or
further away from God.
realized that it is not spiritual to retaliate as in an eye for an eye,
randomized mass murder for randomized mass murder. Nor is it practical for a world superpower to �turn the
other cheek.� It certainly
isn�t spiritual for the United States to withdraw from the world, in favor of
isolationism. Not only would this
give the terrorists what they want, but it leaves our allies and the rest of the
world open to complete terrorist reign. Although
tempting, withdrawal does not take into account the vast amount of good that the
U.S. does for and in other countries. No,
you can�t �Nuke the Bastards,� and the country that harbors them even if
you identify the faceless cowards. This
retaliatory response makes us no closer to God than bin Laden�s act of
violence, since many innocent people would die.
Uncomfortable though it made me, I was forced to acknowledge that it
would be equally wrong for the United States to go after all terrorists if we
did not also hold our own government accountable (regardless which agency is
responsible) for using or sponsoring terrorism in other countries.
This line of
reasoning made it easier for me to start the reconciliation process by focusing
on what would constitute a loving act. All
the while, I am reminded of biblical stories that even the Angels warred in
heaven when Satin was cast out upon the earth.
I am reminded that even the body on a cellular level produces white cells
to defend the integrity of the whole body against invaders that destroy health
and, ultimately, threaten the life of the body.
Even if our response involves a show of force, there are justifiable uses
of force when looking at proper responses to individual behaviors and other
countries. We, collectively, as
humans need to exercise correct choices to help humanity survive.
moment, the United States is perhaps among the most spiritually blessed people
on earth. For out of the tragedy,
the heavens must be witnessing an unprecedented outpouring of love and
compassion towards fellow human beings. We
have victims, but we also have heroes numbering in the thousands.
If heavens were at a crossroads and considering there is nothing good
left on earth to save from Armageddon, ours and other countries actions and mass
outpouring of prayers show otherwise. Our
human and national spirit has shown that a majority of people have taken a giant
spiritual leap forward in union with God.
equally great in magnitude are the darkest of evil terrorist actions that
fragment people and cause a tremendous loss of life.
Such actions are calculated to maximize fear. Even if the attacks were a calculated �holy� war, they
fail the spiritual test. Not only
does the bombing cause murder, inflict human suffering on the United States, but
consequences will inflict mass pain and suffering on their own people, the
Muslim faith, and ultimately, the very existence of their social structure.
This is not a loving act that will bring the fundamentalists closer to
that God, again, is used to justify the means of continuing the reign of
terrorism. Sadly, if we target bin
Laden, there will just be another to take his place. This fact makes it easy to determine that future actions
should reflect zero terrorist tolerance � anywhere.
To do less, is to allow evil to continue fragmenting and destroying the
another fragmenting behavior. It is
fed by anger and hate. It is
inconceivable and insensitive that so many nations and people would bring up the
faults of the United States in such a period of poignant mourning.
Although some criticisms may be true, there is a time and a place to
bring up such issues. Now is not
the time to pour salt in the gaping wound of America.
Since some other countries� critiques are calculated to divide and
fragment people, they are not spiritual actions.
However proper it may be to acknowledge and change any foreign policies
in the U.S., this is an action for the future rather than an immediate response
to the immediate terrorist acts. Again,
now is not the time to roll over and withdraw from world affairs.
actions that the United States or any individual takes, needs to be motivated
not from anger, revenge, or hatred. A
spiritual and willful choice is one that unifies and brings mankind closer to
God. The golden rule is to
determine what decisions will maximize the most love and growth for all people.
Under this criteria, it makes sense that the priorities should be about
security, rebuilding people�s lives, exposing evil, and making evil people
accountable for their evil actions.
To this end,
the actions to protect Americans at home by beefing up security at airports and
domestically are spiritual actions. Helping
to rebuild New York City is a spiritual endeavor.
Those who commit evil terrorist acts need to be made to stop.
I think everyone can agree that the terrorists and their camps need to be
obliterated to keep the United States and others from being victimized. And in light of the revelation from the Mullah, mentioned
above, I would emphasize that ALL terrorist acts or terrorist sponsorship needs
As for the
need for war, it depends on who and how we fight. In a traditional war, if there are countries that are 1)
willing to admit that harboring terrorists is wrong and are 2) willing to turn
all known terrorist and/or information on terrorists over to authorities, then
evil is acknowledged and held accountable for its actions through relatively
peaceful means. If there are
countries supporting terrorists that react in righteous denial, then our actions
should be calculated towards losing the least amount of lives in the least
oppressive manner (on both sides) to effectively eradicate the terrorists and
appears that this war will be very untraditional. The evil of terrorism is pervasive in just about all nations
and the mobile and cellular lifestyle of the small groups of three to five
individuals makes them difficult to trace.
It makes no sense to treat American Arabs like we did the Japanese in
World War II. When the FBI is
scrambling to get enough interpreters, it is the loyal United States citizens of
Afghanistan descent that may save us all.
too much like a virus that mutates using the infrastructure of its host to
infect humanity. Viruses infect
everyone irregardless of different skin colors, religions, or ethnic origins,
leaving a wide path of destruction, and weakens the body of humanity.
The cure is to keep the body, mind, emotions, and spirit, healthy so that
it easily fights off any hint of disease. Instead
of lashing out blindly at others out of fear and anger, we have been spiritually
challenged to come out of our apathetic, daily routine and to take an active
part in loving ourselves and others. We
have been asked to keep our eyes open and pay attention to one another.
The most interesting part of this process will be spiritual growth.
For in order to expose the terrorists, we will need to personally
confront evil within ourselves, our families, our communities, and our
institutions. Then and only then,
will we be able to expose and confront the evil terrorists who choose to live as
people of the lie.
with making choices that will change our world forever, correct choices that
bring us closer to God should be our guiding principal.
The NDErs talk of lessons and relationships.
One of my favorite points made by Dr. Peck is when he talks of the
relationship between goodness and stress.
who behaves nobly in easy times � a fair-weather friend, so to speak � may
not be so noble when the chips are down. Stress
is the test for goodness. The truly good are they who in time of stress do not
desert their integrity, their maturity [meaning they don�t regress to childish
emotions and behaviors], their sensitivity.
Nobility might be defined as the capacity not to regress in response to
degradation, not to become blunted in the face of pain, to tolerate the
agonizing and remain intact. . . . [O]ne measure � and perhaps the best
measure � of a person�s greatness is the capacity for suffering.�
Id. P. 222.
Yorker�s passed the litmus test for goodness by weathering stress with the
utmost integrity. It is my hope
that a mature United States, although a relatively young nation, can rise to the
test and not desert their values, high standards of integrity or sensitivity to
the needs of others. How we respond
to such a tremendous national blow is a direct measure of our nobility.
We have remained amazingly intact and can do a lot of good for ourselves
and the world by exercising proper choices, love and compassion.
The American ingrained values of life, liberty, and justice for all are
new lessons for all of us as these words take on global meaning.
This is the message of NDErs and this is one way to reconcile current
Copyright1999 by Dr. Jeff and Jody Long
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