In the early days after 9/11, when we started looking at the opposites of terrorism, we were amazed at how many different opposites there were, and how different they could be. When we started thinking about how to present TOOT to others, we were trying to find a bumper sticker definition of the opposites. At the time the best we came up with was.
“Seeing what is, is the opposite of terrorism.”
OK, it isn’t a good bumper sticker slogan, and perhaps that is because bumper stickers don’t ask you to think. Bumper stickers are often simply shorthand for a very simple world view. The world view may or may not be accurate, and may or may not be helpful. But in general, bumper stickers don’t ask you to think.
“Seeing what is, is the opposite of terrorism,” does ask you to think. And in the rest of this meditation, I’ll share what I’ve thought about it.
Opensky or Gurdieff said “The best way to wake up somebody, is to tell him he is asleep.” (not exact quote) And I suspect that if I say “most of the time you don’t actually see things as they are,” that will get you, at least for a moment, to really see things as they are.
How we normally see things
Most of the time we “see” things through our mental filters about what those things are. The simplest example might be you looking at somebody you hate. What you “see” isn’t that person, it is the person you hate. Everything they do will be filtered through your thoughts and emotions connected with them.
A terrorist planning to blow up a shopping mall doesn’t see (or think of) the people in the mall as mothers or children or lovers or shop-keepers. They think of them as “the enemy.”
The police in Ferguson probably didn’t see the protesters as real people, but as “trouble makers.” And they didn’t seen Michael as a young man who had graduated school, who had a family, who was a person. They saw him as “a black thug.”
Same thing with the Nazis and Jews in the 1930-40s. Same as with some Israelis and some Palestinians now.
Seeing things as they are
But what if they saw him as he really was. In this case they didn’t know his background or his plans for the future. All they saw was a person walking down the street. What if they left it there? What would have happened.
What if the terrorists actually saw (in their mind’s eye) the people in the mall or in the Towers as people working for a living, as parents and children?
So how do we see things as they are?
It takes work, but the first step is to recognize that what we think we are seeing often is not what is in front of us. Dragon illusion
t is what we are thinking about what is in front of us.