What Bush did not understand after the 911 attacks is that by sowing the seeds of fear of terrorism among the American people to help support his wars in the Middle East, he was helping their cause. It’s right there in the name, Terror-ist.
Terrorism is a way to wage asymmetrical warfare. If your opponent is the most powerful nation on the planet, you will not defeat them on the battlefield. But, if you can scare or terrorize them with a dramatic act, you can hit them where it hurts.
Do you think Bin Ladin did not succeed in what he wanted to accomplish? Well, the most prosperous and mightly nation the world has ever known quivered in its boots at a group of radical religious fundamentalists living in one of the most poverty-stricken and impoverished countries in the world. We were so afraid we let our government talk us into attacking a sovereign nation that had nothing to do with the attacks because it was in the same part of the world and could be a threat in the future.
Ideologically we were changed. At home, we moved closer to a police state with things like the Patriot Act. More surveillance, less freedom. We now put up with long lines at the airport, taking off our shoes, and TSA doing whatever they want with our luggage without explanation. After 911, many Americans said they would trade freedom and privacy for “safety” without ever asking the question if lack of freedom leads to more safety.
For the “land of the free and home of the brave,” we were certainly not acting like it. I would have to say that to create such a fundamental shift in our way of life with one dramatic act and so little at his disposal, Bin Ladin won. Mission accomplished.
The reason I bring up the past is most Americans don’t realize another kind of warfare is being waged on us right now. It does not use dramatic acts that strike fear into our hearts to change our way of life, but instead uses facebook posts, meems, and Instagram. Instead of using terror, it uses disgust. Instead of disagreeing with us, it uses agreeing with our own biases and beliefs to tear us apart.
As the article above says: “The Russians know that, in political warfare, disgust is a more powerful tool than anger. Anger drives people to the polls; disgust drives countries apart.” Are you disgusted with politics? With the ‘other?’ With the government? With members of your own family? Well, guess what? ‘Disgustism’ is working.
Disgustism, like terrorism, uses disgust to tear us apart and get us to fear and distrust each other and our institutions. I know people who said they voted for Trump for one main reason, out of disgust for politics and politicians in Washington. For them, it was like throwing a hand grenade at the federal government. I am not taking a position on whether this was a good idea or not; I am saying, Disgustism is working.
And this is very relevant for us on a spiritual path. One of the biggest things we need to learn is not believing our thoughts about anything. Being open-minded does not mean believing in ideas like the akashic record or ascended masters; it means being open to the idea that maybe your uncle who voted differently than you might be right about some things. It means noticing our reactivity to specific views.
To fight Disgustism, we need to become more aware of our own biases and beliefs. When we are online and see a post or something else that reinforces our disgust and disillusionment with the government, or patriarchy, or sexism, or racism, or a political party, we should think twice about liking or sharing it. What are you achieving by doing so? Did you convert someone to your point of view? Or did you reinforced people’s already entrenched beliefs and disgust? Are you spreading love or fear?
I believe I quoted this passage recently, but I’ll do so again because, as one of my teachers likes to say, “repetition is the mother of clarity.” I’ve highlighted the relevant words.
There are various mental phenomena and mental postures that obstruct the potential for true understanding. Because of their harmful and destructive nature, they are called demons or devils.
These demons include greed, hatred, conceit, opinionated views, addiction to meditation states, pride in knowledge, desire for personal liberation for one’s own sake alone, sentimental compassion, anxious haste to attain enlightenment, idolizing teachers, rejecting the teaching because of finding fault with teachers’ external behavior, indulging in passions, and fearing passion.
Anyone who wants to realize Buddhist enlightenment is obliged to examine his or her mind and heart for these devils.
Kokushi, Muso. Dream Conversations: On Buddhism and Zen . Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.
A Course In Miracles says we have two primary emotions, love and fear. You can only feel one or the other, not both at the same time. Every action, word, thought, motivation buys into and strengthens one or the other. Which one do you want to experience? You will experience the one that you “teach” to others. You teach whether you want to or not. Everything you do, say, share, believe, teach others what you believe the world to be. What most of us don’t understand is that we experience the world we show to others, not the other way around.
Most people who practice yoga say they believe in unity, oneness, diversity, and yet experience division from someone who is a racist, don’t feel one with the sexist, and would rather not hang out with a member of the NRA. I call this tendency wearing spirituality, instead of practicing it. Egos love to wear spirituality because, in certain circles, it will bring you a certain kind of currency.
If you consider yourself to be a student of mine, I am going to encourage you to move beyond only taking the talk of unity, oneness, and diversity and walking it. What this means is not just finding harmony with others who have the same beliefs as you but finding oneness with someone who holds the opposite opinions. Trust me; you share more in common than not. They are not your enemy but your brothers and sisters. They are children of God, just like you. And they are perfect, just like you. Give them the love, respect, and appreciation they deserve and that you would like them to give you.
Spiritual awakening and growth are how we defeat both Terrorism and Disgustism and create a better world for ourselves and every living being on this planet. As Jesus said, “Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.” Luke 12:20-21 You have to start to see the kingdom of heaven on earth before you can begin to live in it.
-Douglas Johnson E-RYT500, YACEP