Friday, November 11, 2005


There are people who rise up in the morning and go to sleep at night thinking about how to kill Americans and Jews. I don’t know how you strike an accord with those people, reach an agreement, make peace. And, it isn’t as though if we were better people they wouldn’t hate us so much. The fanatical fringe can find things to hate in the people they hate. They can imagine, invent, things to hate. Of course, they use the way we retaliate in creating their case against us, but they will use anything. It will make their propaganda a bit tougher sell if we don’t torture prisoners or obliterate neighborhoods and cities, but we cannot think that “being nice” is going to win points with the bad guys or with their recruits.

We have to understand that the fanatical fringe wants us dead. They aren’t going to be happy with anything less than the deaths of all Americans and all Jews. And, that is just a start. It will, over time, become the deaths of everybody not like them. And, there is no talking them out of it. What are you going to say? If someone just wants you dead, what are you going to offer him, or her, instead? If they are willing to kill themselves to kill you, you have no terms of negotiation. There is nothing they want more than your death. You cannot offer them anything as a substitute for you. You can let them kill you sweetly, easily, or you can make it as difficult for them to kill you as you can, but you cannot get them to the place of not wanting you dead and not working day and night to effect your death.

If you cannot bring yourself to believe that that is the way some people are, then I am wasting my time with you. You are too deep into denial, too removed from how it is really, too immersed in how you want it to be, in how you wish it were, to be able to assess your situation with any degree of accuracy and acumen. You need a Keeper. I hope you have a kind one.

The rest of you have to take up the task of accommodating yourselves to a world in which there are people who just want you dead and will do whatever it takes to kill you. One thing the task of accommodation will mean is that you are going to have to learn to live with contrary values. You’re going to have to love your enemies while you are using all necessary means to restrict your enemies’ ability to kill you. We have to learn to live in opposition to ourselves. We have to make our peace with the tension between contrary goods, compassion and survival. We have to integrate our opposites and be “two-faced.” And that is the hardest thing.

Take Jesus as your model. Here is a guy who could forgive a guilty woman (the woman “taken in adultery”) and curse an innocent fig tree (the one which didn’t have figs because “it was not the season for figs”). Here is a guy who could raise the dead on one hand, and leave the dead to bury the dead on the other. He could tell the story of the Prodigal Son, where the father did right by the son, no matter what the son did. And he could tell the story about the Vineyard Workers, where the owner of the vineyard did as he pleased with no regard for what was right or fair. And here is the coup de grace. He could say, “Love your enemies,” and tell stories about a king killing people who refused his invitation to a party (and killed his messengers), and about another king killing people who took possession of his vineyard, and about innocent, if shortsighted, bridesmaids being left out in the darkness because they didn’t have extra oil for their lamps. Jesus was not Mr. Consistency, Mr. One-Sided-Ness-Of-Being.

We have the idea that goodness means the complete absence of anything that would not qualify for sweetness, kindness, gentleness, humbleness, and the like. You can’t draw a hard and fast line and deliver harsh consequences if you are good. You cannot love your enemies and kill your enemies. You have to turn the other cheek, go the second mile. You cannot bust your enemy in the chops. You have to be simply, and purely good. You cannot be a complex blend of contrariness. You cannot be bad in the service of good.

Oneness of Being does not mean One-Sided-Ness of Being. Integration, wholeness, oneness, completion means living in recognition of, and in tension with, the opposites, the contraries, within. “There is a time for every purpose under heaven.” Sometimes we do this, and sometimes we do that. We draw lines in the service of the best we can imagine. We say “No.” We say “Or else.” And we carry through with the delivery of whatever consequence it takes to enforce the line. We will not stand blandly by, or sit with our hands in our laps, while our enemies make us dead. And yet, we live with restraint and compassion. It is a contradiction. Get used to the idea. It is our future.

If there is an area in particular that has been neglected in the work of spiritual development it is here with the matter of the integration of opposites. We have worked to repress, or at least, suppress, those sides of ourselves we have considered beneath us and unworthy. Well. Carl Jung is reported to have had his affairs. Allen Watts is reported to have been an alcoholic. And, Dietrich Bonhoeffer plotted the assignation of Adolf Hitler. It could not be said of any of these men that they stood for adultery, alcoholism, or murder. Yet, there they are. Living in ways they would have held to be contrary to the way life ought to be lived. We cannot square who they were with who (okay, whom) they also were. As with them, so with us.

There is more to us than we like to admit. We are not only who (okay, whom) we say we are. Integration requires an openness to the opposites within. Integrated opposites do not disappear into a complete and proper whole. They remain separate and distinct in right relationship with each other, and all the others. They are recognized, they are accepted, they are welcomed, they are given their place in the whole. We learn that we are capable of drawing lines and delivering harsh consequences with restraint and compassion. There is a significant difference between wholeness and hypocrisy, and it has to do with our degree of awareness of what we are doing, and with the spirit, the attitude, with which we do it. The work of integration is the primary spiritual task for the foreseeable future, and perhaps, for the rest of time.

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