By Tim Hjersted
Oct 4, 2015
I wrote this 14 years ago, when I was a senior at Free State High School, just a couple days after September 11th, 2001. Somewhat unbelievably to me now, I actually stood up in front of my civics class and read this aloud in front of my teacher and the rest of my classmates (every week our assignment was to write something that commented on global news and read it to the class).
I remember my teacher telling me after class that when I started speaking, he initially started to get angry and was about to stop me from continuing, but he told me that he decided to keep listening and by the end he said he realized I was right. Or at least, that I had a lot of good points and saw what I was trying to say. My classmates ended up clapping when I finished, and a friend told me later during lunch that I really ought to try to get it published in the Lawrence Journal World. I never did, but now I'm wishing I had, if only to see the discussion that it might have generated.
I’d like to say something about the people who committed these acts of terrorism. Although most people believe that it was these men that are so horrible (and they may be), it is not necessarily their fault. People are not born evil. It is taught, and you can learn to express evil through growing up and being subject to horrible environmental circumstances. I am confident that if anyone had been born in their bodies and had grown up with such circumstances and have been taught to hate, we would most likely have done the same. We may think, “No! I would never do such a thing!” But that is our conditioning. We have been raised in loving, financially stable, positive environments. We are Americans, and enjoy the world's highest standard of living known today. Go to someplace in the Middle East where they have grown up in such unimaginable and terrifying circumstances that words cannot even express, and you will naturally find people that are angry, hateful, jealous, and bitter.
Did we not expect this? Can we be surprised? People are suffering to unimaginable ends out there, and we sit comfortably and securely in our suburban homes and wonder just WHO could do such a thing?
I think what people hate about this the most though, is that these people are just like us. They are of the same nature and of the same culture as ourselves. They live in the same culture we do, with all the same factors. But these people, they get all the bad ones. While we rejoice and benefit over our civilizations many wonders, the rest are stuck with its ugly and horrifying downsides. We tuck this part of it away though. We ignore it. How could we enjoy our TV and entertainment if we are thinking about all the millions who suffer while we are happy? No, we cannot and so we forget about it. We do not want to identify this part of OURSELVES with us - this pain, hate, and evil - so we separate ourselves. "It’s not us, it’s them!" we say. "They are just jealous, or are crazy! They aren’t human. They're animals!" And so, when we do this, when we subject these people to the subhuman level, it becomes okay to hate them and kill them (as America did with Africans and Native Americans). We will do whatever we have to so that we may preserve our wonderful way of life.
And so, the point of all this is to see that these people are not our enemies, but are our brothers. They are just like us. They are “US”. We must have compassion for these people, compassion for those who suffer from the attack, and for those who attacked because they suffer. And remember, hate only crates more hate. If we truly want peace, we must forgive them, and by doing this, forgive ourselves. We must forgive, and try to help people, everyone. What was done has been done and we cannot change that. We must work to create a positive love space Now. So people won’t want to do this kind of thing in the future. Let’s solve for the cause and not the effect (which would simply be to punish them, enforce more laws and then go back to the life we had before). Let's solve for the root of the problem, so people do no not want to kill. Because, if they don’t want to kill, there is no need to write a law saying not to, as the law would be written in their hearts. You may say that it doesn’t matter if we love them, that they are inherently evil and that what we do doesn’t matter. Well, I’m sorry, but that is just a cop out. It’s a BS story (sorry) that we tell ourselves so that we don’t have to change, or fix, what is really the problem.
We must all do what we can to help. We all must do our part. Some will help by rescuing those who may still be alive in the rubble, some may help by donating blood, and some, like me, can help by sending them, and everyone, my love. And so I will begin. I will send you my love. And when someone is angry with me or hurts me, I will send them my love as well. I will send them peace, and I will send them respect, and realize that truly, we are all one. This is P.L.U.R., and is the path to a world of Peace, Love, Unity & Respect.