"No Borders - No Walls"
“Fear” seems to be an emotion that is quickly seeping into the fabric of much of the nation nowadays, and when people are afraid they almost always retreat inward into some sort of protected shelter or fortified bunker.
As I see it, the heinous rhetoric and “knee-jerk” reactions to the terrorist events of the past weeks is quite clearly a symptom of unchecked fear that is gripping the minds and hearts of so many people in this land in a “time of terror.”
Yesterday, Donald Trump’s “fascist” demand that our borders should be “totally” shut to all Muslims was bad enough, but the fact that so any people seemed to agree with him places us all in great jeopardy. This kind of rhetoric is exactly what the terrorists want (they want a war) but there is even greater danger here because whenever we cut ourselves off and retreat into fortified enclaves we are always in danger of losing our very souls.
The soul of humanity is, after all a cosmic relationship with everyone and everything, and when we cut off relationships we smother our soul.
I think about something priest and author, Richard Rohr, said a while back:
The problem is that we think we are separated from one another
When we allow “fear” to take us hostage we are duped into believing that we are isolated beings separated from dangerous, different others. “Fear” fools us into thinking we are separate from the world of nature, separate from those who look different than we do or belong to a religion other than our own; and yet nothing is separated and this sense of being isolated is nothing more than a lie we tell to protect ourselves when we are afraid
The Buddha taught ignorance of our true nature makes us believe in the myth that we are isolated. He also taught that ignorance is a cause of our suffering—I find great wisdom in this teaching.
Yesterday as I read those “fear-filled” calls about protecting ourselves from all those foreigners who may harm us by closing all our borders, I remembered one of my favorite passages from the writing of the renowned American monk and mystic, Thomas Merton. One day while standing on a busy street corner he had a grand epiphany about the “true nature” of every human being:
In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut,
In the center of the shopping district,
I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people
that they were mine and I theirs,
that we could not be alien to one another even though we were strangers.
It was like waking up from a dream of self isolation.
Yes, the whole illusion of a separate existence is a dream.
As I do every day, this morning I went out into my garden to pray and meditate as the sun was coming up and I was struck with the fact that I am always surrounded by walls - I live within the walls of my house, I sit surrounded by the walls of my garden, I drive within the fortified walls of my car and go shopping inside the walls of a market. But I also realized that all these walls are artificial – bricks and mortar, steel and glass constructed by human hands. The walls can “fool me” into thinking that I am separate form those who are outside of them. Yet, in reality we are all separated from one another by nothing more than a thin layer of skin—we are cosmic beings, we belong to the universe, to nature and to one another, and there are no different others.
I love that line from the Islamic mystic poet, Rumi:
They say there is a window from one heart to another.
But how can there be a window where no wall remains.