Sunday, November 30, 2008

Terrorism in Mumbai: Is blame the answer?

It is sad, but predictable, that some people of Mumbai have taken to the streets to protest that the government failed to protect them as it should have against the recent terrorist attacks. The home minister has resigned, perhaps realizing that someone has to.

As a species, we are especially vulnerable. We don't have a tough hide or really good claws. Most of us can't sprint nearly as fast as a cheetah, climb a tree, or fly away. Some of us (me) can't see without our glasses. Our protections have to be constructed. Walls, locks, security systems, lights.

But we can only do so much to protect ourselves, and we don't want to believe that. We feel that if we actually thought about how we might die any moment, might have an undiagnosed cancer even now, might be killed in a random mugging on our way to the store, we would be paralyzed by fear. It seems unlucky to even admit the possibility.

It often takes something like a home invasion, an unexpected diagnosis, a tragic accident - and a spiritual practice - to wake us up to our vulnerability. There is a benefit to becoming aware; we are then better able to protect ourselves. I am reminded of a friend, a martial artist, who taught me how to walk safely to my car when I am alone, especially at night.

"Always know what's going on around you," he said. "And have an attitude of readiness. Be willing to start screaming." You can only do that if you really understand that there are dangerous people in the world.

Once over their shock, some of the people of Mumbai, a very small percentage, really, have taken to transforming their fear into anger, and acting it out in the streets, blaming the politicians and the government, convinced that someone could have prevented this. But history tells us that it doesn't take very many people to do a lot of damage; they just have to be serious about it and have guns.

Where does the solution lie? Far back. In the work many people are constantly doing to create a world whose abundance is shared, a world in which people are not goaded by hunger and hopelessness and disenfranchisement into violence. Blame is not the first step on that road.

1 comment:

  1. I hope that the Indian people know that whatever Reverend Jeremiah Wright says it doesn't represent the views of all of America. Lots of us in America see Jeremiah Wright as a source of shame and view him with contempt.

    I don't feel that this is a case of India's chickens coming home to roost. Lots of us in America would be appalled at hearing Reverend Jeremiah Wright say "God Damn India".

    It really concerns me that such a low life is so close to our President-elect.