“Democracy does not have to be a blood sport. It can be an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.”
––former U.S. President Bill Clinton
When former U.S. President Bill Clinton made the above statement at the 2012 Democratic National Convention on September 5 in Charlotte, N.C., he was referring to the intensely negative elements that have made their way into the current presidential election campaign. He could, however, have been discussing almost any kind of attempt to resolve major differences where individuals choose to rely on brutality or guerrilla decontextualization as opposed to civility and communication.
Imagine the many possibilities of what life might, could, or would be like for so many today if Osama bin Laden had developed a different perspective on how best to address what he considered grievances against the United States. Even if his reasoning still led him ultimately to the word “jihad,” he would still have had the option of exercising a definition of jihad as something other than a physical war against one’s fellow human beings.
He could have honored the legitimate definition of jihad as a spiritual effort to overcome whatever personal limitations or failings might stand in the way of achieving one’s greatest spiritual development. The version Osama bin Laden chose created a maniacal manifestation of what Clinton called “blood sport.” Had he opted for the higher path, instead of his legacy casting a shadow of dread and hatred over this 21st century it could have developed in such a way that he left behind a shining example of diplomacy, grace, and faith.
In his presentation at the Democratic National Convention, Vice President Joe Biden noted that correcting the injustice of 9/11 “was about righting an unspeakable wrong, healing a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart,” a wound that had to be healed. In truth, the wound he spoke of was in the world’s heart. It was such not only because citizens in New York City lost their lives in the attack but because New York has long been celebrated as the ultimate metropolis, the place of glittering urban canyons to which people traveled and relocated from everywhere else to satisfy their sense of adventure and freedom. In addition, the total number of those who died in the multiple locations of the violence reportedly represent some 90 countries.
Creative Responses and Processes of Healing
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