what is it in the way we are living, organizing our societies and treating each other that makes violence seem plausible to so many people? And why is it that our immediate response to violence is to use violence ourselves? We in the spiritual world will see the root problem here as a growing global incapacity to recognize the spirit of God in each other.I see this in Israel, where Israelis dismiss the entire Palestinian people as terrorists but never ask themselves, "What have we done to make this seem to Palestinians a reasonable path of action?' Of course, there have always been those who wanted to act in hurtful ways against Israel. Yet during 1993-96, when Israel under Yitzhak Rabin was pursuing negotiations and peace, the fundamentalists had little following and there was little violence. On the other hand, when Israel failed to withdraw from the West Bank and expanded the number of its settlers there, the haters had a far easier time.
This is a world out of touch with itself, filled with people who have forgotten how to recognize and respond to the sacred in each other. The alternatives are stark: either start caring about the fate of everyone on this planet or be prepared for a slippery slope toward violence that will eventually dominate our daily lives.
None of this should be read as mitigating our anger at the terrorists. Still, these evil people are often marginalized when societal dynamics are moving toward peace and hope. Imagine if the bin Ladens of the world had to recruit people against America at a time when America was using its resources to end world hunger, leading the world in ecological responsibility, social justice and rewarding corporations for social responsibility. Think this is naive? It's even more naive to imagine that bombings, missile defence, spies or baggage searches can prevent those willing to lose their lives from wreaking havoc.
Our only hope is to revert to a consciousness of generosity and to make the shaping paradigm the story of the police and firemen who risked (and in many cases lost) their lives in order to save others they didn't even know.
And it's up to us. We can't expect the left to organize a successful movement, because they will talk about the rights of the oppressed and make everyone believe they don't really care about the terrible loss of life and the fear everyone now endures. Their justified anger at the way capitalist globalization has hurt people will make them play down the outrageousness of this particular attack -- and hence be disconnected from the righteous indignation that most of us feel.
Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of TIKKUN magazine. He is the author of Spirit Matters: Global Healing And The Wisdom Of The Soul.