What to do with, and about, all of our conflicting emotions?
From deep inside me, and all around the world, the news about bin Laden’s death has created conflicting emotions that seem to be downright overwhelming. I'm aware of the fact that for me, so much of this emotional upheaval has to do with the fact that I witnessed excruciating emotional pain while doing the volunteer work I offered in the aftermath of 9/11. And even while my emotions careen back and forth, I find that now and again I feel a steadiness and a calmness, because our President Obama, with clear eyes and obvious strength, is leading the way through this traumatic national and global experience.
As a person of peace, I find myself shockingly enchanted by the Navy SEALS, who are practically rock stars now. Obviously, lots of young men (and women) will be signing up for what I know (from a close personal associate who has gone through it) to be inconceivably dangerous and grueling military training. Rock star warriors for peace, is how I find myself feeling about them … feelings inspired when I think of President Obama's courage to defend our nation by bravely ordering this treacherous mission with confidence in those SEALS who were destined to pull it off. My spirits are lifted to all new levels of trust in our government.
And all these conflicting emotions are so confusing to me! I’m experiencing feelings of national pride and happiness at a death? Me, a person with a loving heart, just like you? Yet I can't help but be happy that Osama bin Laden is dead! - for the sake of those I saw with my own eyes who suffered unimaginable heartbreak and despair because of the horror and tragedy of what his tainted heart and warped mind wrought. And then there's the part where I don't know how to integrate the partying that seems to be playing out on sacred ground. Ground Zero, where for 8 1/2 months a huge American flag hung on the side of a building along with a banner that said, "We Will Never Forget." With my own eyes, I saw exhausted and heartsick first responders, FDNY, DMORT, NYPD, and PAPD officers risking their lives, looking for the missing. How can we party where so many tears have been cried?
Being human at the moment is so intense!
I know I'm not alone experiencing these conflicting feelings. I had a long talk with one of my meditation students; she happens to be a psychotherapist and was saying many of these same things to me that I've mentioned here. Incredible words are pouring out of her clients as they spill out of her own heart simultaneously: "How can we be glad about this? Where do we stand? How are we supposed to feel?"
I'd like to suggest that it is pointless to feel bad about any of our feelings right now - there's just too much that has been stirred up by the death of this terrorist. The whole world was traumatized by the sights and sounds we witnessed on live television on September 11th, 2001, and as New Yorkers, we were continuously traumatized for months on end afterward by the smell that permeated our entire city emanating out from the pile that became a pit called Ground Zero.
The only thing I can think of to do is something that comes from love: I suggest that we pray for ourselves and for each other. Let us fill our hearts with love and pray that we somehow learn a great lesson about how to be more accepting and loving of each other. Let us care for those we love with special consideration and try to see the good in each other. New York City after 9/11 turned into a “neighborhood” where complete strangers fell into each other's arms, crying out for those we lost. I pray that we never have to experience such a horrible time again, but maybe we can as a nation return to a level of caring and respect that we have lost since those days. I believe that if we can even try to do that, sticking together and supporting each other through these difficult days of confusing emotions, then our mental and emotional health will surely be bolstered. Love is the only thing with which we can heal the Self … and each other.
With love in my heart,