Tiny White Flowers

Tiny White Flowers

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thoughts this Thanksgiving Eve

It's the eve of Thanksgiving, and American Masters is on PBS right now. Not sure what it is about - music, I think. I just needed a break. The program before was Secrets of the Dead, about the Mumbai attacks, which detailed the terrorist strikes, and interviewed several people who lived through the horror that unfolded.

From the BBC News, 29 Nov. 2008, a news article excerpt:

". . . One of the first targets was the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, where at least two men fired automatic weapons and threw grenades at crowds of people waiting in the main hall.

A second group opened fire at Café Leopold, a popular restaurant, while a third seized Nariman House, a business complex housing a Jewish outreach centre, taking several people hostage.

A fourth group - or, some reports say, the same one that attacked the station nearby - struck the Cama and Albless hospital for women and children. A number of drive-by shootings were also reported across the city.

By around 2200 local time gun fire was being reported at two of the city's luxury hotels - the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace.

troops take up positions near the Taj Mahal hotel on 27 November 2008
Hundreds of troops have been deployed to sites around Mumbai

Some guests managed to escape what they described as indiscriminate fire, while others sheltered in their rooms. Others were shot - exactly how many remains unclear.

The gunmen were looking for Americans and Britons, guests trapped at the hotels said, and hostages were taken in both locations.

Gunfire and small blasts continued to be heard at both hotels over the next several hours, as Indian troops surrounded the buildings. Fires broke out in both hotels. . ."

* * *

I am amazed, once again, at what we, as a human species, are capable of. We can be sucked in by terrorist doctrine and taught that our own lives are insignificant, that we are doing important deeds for the greater good. We can be full of compassion, knowing that we are part of a greater whole, that our own lives and the good that we do can strengthen the collective body of humanity. We can be caught in the crossfire, amidst chaos and killing, and learn things about ourselves we didn't know - that we would rather die to save someone else, than to be saved ourselves, to risk our lives in the face of impossibility. That we can love all the more, and that we can feel mercy for those who were led astray.

I don't know if any of that made any sense. I'm not a hugely political person, and I'm not always up on everything that goes on in our world. But I do know that I constantly have hope for our species, because I know that for the most part, we want to be, and are, good caring beings. We love and want to be loved, and we feel stronger when we reach out to others.

Mother Theresa said, in a little book I read many years ago, that compassion must begin at home. I think that's true. I find as I get older that I see people around me with more compassion. I might not reach out always, but carry them in my heart and mind. I find I want to give people the benefit of the doubt when their actions are misguided. That anger doesn't have to last forever. That forgiveness is not only possible, but necessary to keep moving forward with the important work of living together. That we are fragile, precious, and powerful in a variety of ways.

None of this must be tied to any religion, race, persuasion or creed. We just need to be that best we can be, with a little help from our family and friends.

Thank you to all of my family, my friends, those I barely know and those I don't know. And for those I pass without a glance, forgive me. Next time I hope to open a door for you, to let you in when the traffic is heavy, to let you go before me in line when you have just a few items in your basket, to smile when I don't feel like it. I know I appreciate it all the times you've done the same for me.

Happy Thanksgiving~

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