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In search of purity.
Saturday July 23rd 2005, 6:13 pm
Filed under: politics,religion
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Having posted last on the day previous to the London subway bombings I find myself writing to my blog with a changed perspective. I watched closely the news coverage from London and marveled at the resilience of the British. The stoic way they realized that it was a crime perpetrated by one of their own. The calls for information and assistance, as well restraint, that went out to the surely multi-cultural population. Then, when you think it’s time to breathe and assess or maybe even recollect; a second and botched bombing attempt. Luckily, something in the bombers process failed. We can speculate that good police work broke a chain of competency in the bombers ranks, one hopes it did.
But, that’s only part of the story. The thing I’ve noticed recently while watching cable’s talking heads is a new face in the crowd. The voice of the moderate Arab and the talking points of the moderate Muslin. And I find their explanation or interpretation of the thoughts going on for the bombers quite perplexing. I’m sure we all do. However, one description as to the bombers thought process struck as particularly telling and truthful. I encountered a depiction of the fundamentalist thinking imparted to the suicide participants that entailed the objective of purity. Plain and simple, absolute and eternal purity of soul. You blow yourself up and in that instant and selfless act is so pure that they will gain Heaven and eternal life.

Yah! Gimme some of that!
I want that.
Can I have that?

Not that I’m staid enough or cynical enough to believe such nonsense as blowing anything up, for political reasons, will achieve any greater cause. (That being my present state of intellectual evolution.)

Yet, a selfless act of purity would be welcome; indeed.

But, where and to what ends might such an act play out?

After all isn’t that what we are all after? Eternal life? Or at least the feeling that some thing we do here, in this obviously limited expression of eternity, has an aspect of eternity to it. As if we were at least part of, or at least participating in, eternal life.


(Whatever that is?)

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Being honest with yourself and all others is the definition of purity. ‘To thine own self be true’. If you’re honest with yourself and with others, every waking moment is a selfless act of purity. Plus, big explosions are painful. I don’t like pain.

Comment by hyperlexic 07.26.05 @ 4:12 pm

Awesome! As I was reading your blog I was reminded of the Vietnamese Buddhist Monks who set themselves on fire in protest in 1963 http://www.buddhistinformation.com/self_immolation.htm . The difference in the two acts is of course obvious.

Thich Nhat Hanh (nominated by Martin Luther King for the Nobel Peace Prize) said of the Monks’ self immolation:

“Suicide is an act of self-destruction, having as causes the following: (1) lack of courage to live and to cope with difficulties; (2) defeat by life and loss of all hope; (3) desire for nonexistence….. The monk who burns himself has lost neither courage nor hope; nor does he desire nonexistence. On the contrary, he is very courageous and hopeful and aspires for something good in the future. He does not think that he is destroying himself; he believes in the good fruition of his act of self-sacrifice for the sake of others…. I believe with all my heart that the monks who burned themselves did not aim at the death of their oppressors but only at a change in their policy. Their enemies are not man. They are intolerance, fanaticism, dictatorship, cupidity, hatred, and discrimination which lie within the heart of man.”

I think also there must be called forward that these acts of simultaneous suicide and homicide are at their very center violent acts. Any faithful person would say that God or Allah or any Devine being is discriminating and has a propensity towards justice. One might argue that the concepts of justice, mercy, love, truthfulness, beauty, goodness find their unspeakable origins in the Devine. These acts as they are not discriminating of the innocence of guilt of the strangers that are killed make them impure acts.

More than these aspirations for purity seen in these acts of self immolation and suicide / homicide bombings – I note the efforts of those who serve as most pure. The mother Teresas, the MLKs the Ghandis – those who would dedicate their lives to change for those who can not make that change themselves seem the most pure to me.

To me this is the most profound difference between the two – not that one has taken a life or lives and the other has not. But that these pure servants of their fellow beings and of their highest beliefs were willing to spend the time and energy at being the purity they desired to see in the world, and while they certainly risked and some lost their life, they did not loose site of what they were working for.

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

April 3, 1968
On the eve of a protest march for striking garbage workers in Memphis, Tenn., King gave this darkly prescient speech. The next day he was assassinated.
The whole speech http://www.afscme.org/about/kingspch.htm

Comment by andrei hedstrom 07.26.05 @ 11:53 pm

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