9/11 was a turning point for me — the moment I realized that the gift of life that has been afforded me was being wasted in pursuit of a horribly hollow American dream. I left corporate America and set out on a path to reclaim my artistic gifts and to reclaim my sense of love for life and humanity. What has become clear to me is the profound, simple importance of bringing our most basic convictions to life.
The most basic conviction that I am able to find in historical as well as current spiritual/religious annals is the idea of one, or unity. The religious, spiritual, and scientific mythologies all begin with the idea of one thing. It may be called God, Allah, Yeshuah, Big Bang, Universe, or one of hundreds of other names. And these stories always end with a return to this one thing. In science, the universe contracts back to whatever that thing was that went bang; in religion, we are reunited with the divine one. There are countless variations but the story is basically one thing to many back to one thing.
We even have widespread precedent for the idea that this one thing is the underlying unity that holds the fabric of life together. "We are all one" is perhaps the most popular expression of this idea that not only is one thing the beginning and end, it is also the means. And so perhaps we are not "the many" at all. Perhaps we are still the one, diversified.
But you ask about "we" — honestly, I am never certain what "we" as a society understand about much of anything. It seems to me on the individual level that many of us have learned that now is our opportunity to get along by actually living our most basic spiritual/societal convictions. America's most basic conviction — the one that initially distinguished us from the world as it also united us as a country — was the clear statement by Mr. Thomas Jefferson that "All men are created equal." What I think we have yet to come to understand is that this conviction has been twisted from a statement of present equality into the proclaimed pursuit of future equality. Equality has become the goal, not the basis — the end, not the beginning. And most certainly not the means.
"United we stand, Divided we fall." My co-writer Alice and I wonder if our president actually sees unity, here now. He seems to be advancing a unifying vision, but we wonder if he actually sees unity like most folks see duality/multiplicity. We certainly hope he does, for our leaders have seen their fellow beings divided far too long. Our leaders have long been understood to proclaim life a struggle of the many to attain unity, and have done a fine job of insisting upon and perpetuating the illusion for us. It is a fine time for a leader that actually sees unity as he or she moves about the world. Every faith, including scientific, proclaims underlying unity and suggests fine reasons for seeing it far enough into reality that we can honor it, and feel wonder, awe, responsability and gratitude, for this mystery that is the gift of a lifetime.
How will we pass on the meaning of this event to future generations? By putting down the mythological fruit as was — and continues to be — suggested in the initial mythology so many years ago. This is Christian mythology of course but most every story has precedent for this idea. It is an idea of allowing our faith to come into our lives as a constant presence. It has to do with faith guiding the life of each individual in every moment. Faith will no longer be a set of rules for how others should live.
We as a society are comprised of individuals, and the individuals will be the ones to pass it on to the individuals who follow us in time. It has always been this way, even though there are few arguments alive today for the power of individuals to change their world. By all means, these sort of individuals exist and have existed and are yet to come, but their stories seem to be shared and emphasized less and less in our culture. They seem to come to us as one-off examples of individuality in a world of follow-the-leader. But nothing could be less true. Following the leader is an individual choice in every moment of a lifetime, and our collective identity is the sum total of individual choices. The choices of most folks do not seem to be based in either faith or recognition of equality.
The wisdom of unity — of incorporating this basic idea of one thing as the end, means, and beginning — has to do again with our mythology. To allude to the Christian story, the simplest way to get there is to stop eating fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is important, for good and evil represent the larger idea of duality. It is, in effect, the Tree of the Knowledge of Duality, the Tree of the Knowledge of the Illusion That Unity is Duality.
This should clearly explain why one might not be seeing unity. Duh! Put down the fruit. It's hallucinogenic. Eating the fruit brings us into the realm of the relative and results in what Alice calls "relative faith." This is faith underscored by doubt, insecurity, a deep need for ongoing proof of the possibility of unity. The fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Duality keeps one immersed in the hallucination that this here now is duality, struggling to get back to unity. There's no time to live as though this is unity, for we are busy proving that it is not proving that later it will be better, when duality is unified."
How will we then pass it on? Slowly it seems. Very slowly. But perhaps this is what the gift of time is for.
What wisdom do we want to focus on, and grow more deeply into? Engage the human skyline. Let hatred go. In Love stand side by side. The original, enduring wisdom of the ages from around the globe, which is the recognition of the pure equality of all living things in the image of the divine. This is the essence of unity diversified. It is a perspective of seeing the one always walking, breathing, eating, singing, and standing side by side. The attached video is an in-studio presentation of a song called "Side by Side" that Alice and I wrote in the days following 9/11.
"Side by Side"
If the smoke should ever end, I wonder if my head can mend, I'veNever seen an airplane do just that.Side by side the skyline's changing - The shadows somehow stay the same —Stop the video — I've had enough!!
Where are they now, what are their names? It's so different, it hasn't changedlove and hatred wake up side by sidepaint life and love with a holy touch but it may never matter muchwe think its someone else who gods the brush—
Some crowds always sing along, whoever's maddest, sing their songHatred underscores the lines — they just follow, follow blind — theyleft there and their hearts remained — Disturb the shadows — their hands came—forth. Angry. Deface the skyline — jet black.
I wish I had some poetry, some well put words, some imageryHe would know the world's a canvas when I was thruAnd every brush could dip in love. But it really wouldn't matter muchCause the sad truth is that art's just not his thing
and my heart goes out to all of you and long before this day was truewe were in each other's lives, I know how you will live in mine - YesYou will always stay and guide, as I engage the human skylinelet hatred go - in love stand side by side
These wounded hearts are restless still, and young remain and likely willCause the happy truth is kindness is our thing—The eyes and heart - the trilogy. Engage the human scenerylet hatred go - in love stand side by side
and my heart goes out to all of you and long before this day was truewe were in each other's lives, I know how you will live in mine - YesYou will always stay and guide, as I engage the human skylinelet hatred go - in love stand side by side.
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