To feel the pain of the world is to participate in the life of humanity. It is to say “yes” to a love that knows no limits. This love opens out to the world, healing the most deeply wounded places of life.
We are at the beginning of a profound time of upheaval in which many world events are poised to create change for the future and much is unknown. It is a significant time, with shifting alliances, polarization within and between nations, and a sense of anxiety and foreboding among many people. In many places there is unrest with a sense of things potentially being overturned in ways that are threatening to one side or another in the existing balance of things.
The situation within Iraq is intensely volatile, with the outcome of the present crisis unknown and many forces jockeying for position within Iraq and beyond her borders that would like to influence the status and shape of whatever government continues or is newly formed. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is holding onto his government tentatively in the face of a great deal of opposition. The Prime Minister is trying to engage in the difficult task of shoring up public opinion behind his administration so that he does not appear to be a U.S. puppet, while at the same time not losing any of the benefits of military support and training and economic support that Iraq presently receives from the U.S. Nevertheless, his hold on the stability of his government is threatened on many sides. There are those who object to his relationship with the West; there are others who object to his cooperative arrangement with the army of Moqtada al-Sadr; there are those who feel that his government is both inefficient and corrupt; and there are those who feel that the infiltration by Shia militias into key offices of government is one of the central causes of why Iraq is presently in chaos.
The situation in Iraq is only one of a number of currently volatile situations of potential upheaval. There is now an extremely volatile situation in Lebanon — a clash of political wills between the pro-Western administration of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the anti-Western and pro-Syrian faction led by Hezbollah. There has recently been an ongoing demonstration against the government by thousands of Lebanese that has risen into the hundreds of thousands for special rallies. This group is trying to replace the existing government with one that gives Hezbollah more power while removing power from the West. What will happen as an outcome in Lebanon is now unknown.
Within Palestine, the rival factions of Hamas and Fatah have become engaged in violent opposition with each cease fire interrupted by new outbreaks of violence, the causes varying and taking place seemingly at a moment’s notice. Clashes involving multiple deaths including those to children have already taken place in Gaza City and in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Within the Middle East, alliances are shifting, and the outcome of this is likely to have a significant effect on U.S. policy and even on the present global situation. Iran is establishing herself as a stronger presence in the Middle East and both Iran and Syria are ready to play an increasingly important role in the formation of a possible alliance with Iraq to prevent the destabilization of the government and to increase general security for the population. To the extent that this three-way partnership takes place, what have formerly been ‘enemies’ of the U.S. will have to exist in an uneasy alliance with her because of the help given to prop up Iraqi security forces. In addition, a Middle Eastern bloc of nations that is more solidified and more opposed to Western intervention has the potential of coming into being with Iran and Syria key players in this bloc.
Rather than viewing the currents of change with fear, it is essential that we view them in an embrace of understanding of the world’s purification and movement into greater light.
It is a time of great change, and the shifting alliances of the present moment should not be underestimated in their impact on the world. Within the U.S., the increased polarization of a nation is taking place not only concerning U.S. policy toward Iraq in general, but most recently around the Iraq Study Group Report (ISG), with the administration and its supporters appearing to go one way in relation to this, and much of the public appearing to move in a different direction. The vocabulary of polarization is more and more evident in phrases that one either adheres to or rejects vehemently such as: “victory in Iraq,” “get the job done,” “cut and run.” But debate over Iraq is not the only nor even the main source of the polarization within the U.S. This polarization is, above all, fueled by forces that would seek to dismember a unified moral outlook through creating chaos and confusion about what is going on and instilling the feeling that there is no viable option or place to turn for a reading on what the ‘right’ way of action is for U.S. policy or the ‘right’ path to take.
The forces of polarization on the world stage and on the American stage have intensified considerably and continue to do so even now, and the outcome of this tension will have its effect not only in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, and the U.S. as it is presently doing, but also among the nations of the world in general. For it is a time of portentous events — and it is important that we be aware of the potential for the national and global scene to shift in ways that are unpredictable. This is not a view to be held with fear, however, but with an attitude of deep compassion and of hope — compassion for those whose suffering is so great as a result of this upheaval, and understanding that this time of change is part of the transition to the new that will take place as the old arrangements between and within nations shift, and as compelling events call for new strategies and new solutions to old dilemmas. Rather than viewing the currents of change with fear, it is essential that we view them in the embrace of an understanding of the world’s purification and movement into greater light, and the role of forces that would oppose such movement. This movement is now taking place despite the opposition and requires of us that we seek to hold firmly to trust and to an inner commitment to act as representatives of the light and love that is seeking to uplift and bless all beings by bringing in the new.
Continued: A Time of Upheaval, Part II.