No one has a solution to the suicidal destruction in the Mideast. Condi imagined for a moment that she had one: let's just call it all a "birth pang", put down our guns and missiles, and watch the wonderful baby being born. She was—appropriately in Rome—fed to the lions and laughed out of the arena.
So I do not have a solution, either. But what I can offer is an explanation, and the smallest pore of an opening to growth. I offer it today as our Friday Reflection.
Hatred is a self-destructive emotion. This is the short explanation for the motivation of the suicide bomber.
But where does it come from, this hatred? We in the West have trouble even conceiving of such a depth of hatred, raised as we are (with some ominous exceptions here in America) in a primarily secular culture. How can we even begin to understand such a hell of hatred, that consumes both self and other in a detonation of the psyche? How can we conceive it, let alone stop it? After all, how can you possibly destroy an army whose ideal is suicide?
You have to go to the root, and cut off the source of its energy.
Not its physical energy—for we have seen how impossibly difficult that is. I am talking about its ideological energy: faith.
Faith is the fuel of the fundamentalist, whether of the suicidally murderous or the despotically murderous varieties. They all come down to the same thing, after all: note that Osama and his cronies cling carefully to life, just as Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld hide behind the shield of distance. The same goes for Olmert, Nasrallah, and their courtiers.
This is the murderous way of faith—the faith that is conditioned into a person by every fundamentalist cult, be it led by an Al Zarqawi or a Pat Robertson. The conditioning of faith is designed to fill a person with such a self-hatred that he will be led inexorably to suicide. The only difference is that Islamic zealots of faith will be thoroughly open in their psychosis: they aim to die while taking as many along with them as possible.
The Judeo-Christian fundamentalists will be taught to do the same, except in a more devious manner. They kill under the flag of rectitude, thereby lighting the fuse of murderous resentment that will eventually complete their suicide. Yet they, too, take many innocents along with them on the road to self-annihilation.
In all cults of faith, the acculturated hatred of self is projected onto the bodies of the designated enemy, their families and their children. This is the way of faith: it spreads hatred indiscriminately, like cancer cells. When you hate, then everyone and everything is an enemy, or a potential enemy.
There is no redemption in faith, aside from the fables that its proponents pour into the faithful. There is only the hatred of self, going under the name of sacrifice or martyrdom. All there is after that is destruction—aimless waste, directionless desolation.
So I teach that faith is a poison—perhaps the deadliest of them all. Faith denies experience, and replaces it with the fantasy built on delusion; the monument made of shadows.
I would encourage you instead to replace faith with trust. What is the difference?
Faith pledges itself to Forever; to a distant and external Absolute. Trust is placed in the moment, and is led by the direct experience of sensation, feeling, and thought. Faith is driven by belief; trust is led by love.
Trust can be violated and then revoked; faith is irrevocable. Trust can be shaped, refined, transformed. Faith demands the rigid inflexibility of an endless monomorphism. Faith will always and forever be the same.
So let trust be the guide of your life's path, and you will never be trapped in the rock-walled, sheer, and suicidal pit of faith. Let trust lead you, and you will find in it all the room you need for god.