SEPTEMBER 11TH – An End and a New Beginning
by Barbara Wilder
The following is a talk that Barbara delivered in November 2001 at the Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colorado when The Boulder Media Women and the ASJA presented a panel discussion called "September 11th Read-In and Write-In – Where are the Women?"
I've spent the last four years writing and speaking about changing the consciousness around money. On September 9th I gave the keynote address that opened the Annual Conference for Socially Responsible Investing at a luxurious resort outside of Tucson. I stood before 400 of the country's money brokers – socially responsible money brokers albeit, but money brokers just the same – and explained that we had to change our monetary system from the divide and conquer mentality of our current patriarchal fear-based economy to a more feminine, inclusive, and nurturing love-based economy. I pointed out that half the world lives on less than two dollars a day because our economic system is driven by fear instead of by love. I explained that fear is the father of greed, anger, frustration, and rage, which leads to power-mongering, terrorism, poverty, crime and war; while love is the mother of caring, sharing, nurturing, and including, which leads to peace, joy, goodwill, abundance, and prosperity for all. I suggested that money flows through the planet like blood flows through the body, touching and affecting everyone and everything in the world. When money is diseased with feelings of fear, lack, anger, and greed it poisons the world, just like diseased blood poisons the body.
Money is nothing more and nothing less than the exchange of energy between people for the purpose of survival. To create a more balanced world all we need to do is to enter each monetary transaction – each exchange of energy between each other – in a state of loving, caring, and sharing. I suggested that when we begin to treat money like an agent that can carry these feelings of loving, caring and sharing by spending, giving, earning and receiving money as love, we will create balance and prosperity for all the earth's people and for the earth itself.
For many in the audience, this was the first time they'd ever heard anything like this. The idea that money could be something other than what they had always assumed it to be, which for the majority of them, interestingly, was "the root of all evil," the news that it could be transformed into love simply by changing the way they thought about it, rocked the very foundations of their world. Ensconced as we all are in the belief that money is a necessary evil that we must endure, it is unimaginable that money was ever anything else. But that comes from a very narrow understanding of history. For example, in the Middle Ages, to charge interest to poor people was a sin. Now, it's one of the biggest businesses in the world.
The audience that night, some whose companies were headquartered in the World Trade Center, was split. A few got it, more were intrigued, and about half the crowd wanted to tar an feather the man who'd invited me.
The next day - September 10th – I left them to their convention and flew home. I slept soundly that night, knowing that I had spurred a debate unlike any this group had ever engaged in before.
The following morning I woke up to the news that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. An hour later the World Trade Center was no more.
My neighbors, new transplants from Manhattan, who have chosen not to burden their lives with television, joined my husband and I in our living room. Soon another friend arrived. Together we watched and attempted to make sense out of the destruction that CNN continually ran and re-ran in front of our eyes. Our shock gave way to grief, and our grief, shared as it was, reminded us of our humanity. We ate together that night.
I called my brother, from whom I've been estranged for seven years, and told his voice mail that I loved him. I wanted to reach out and embrace everyone I loved, as well as every one of those who had died, and those who had lost the ones they loved.
I wanted to weep, but I also wanted to scream hideous, vile things at the perpetrators of such an awful, awful act. I was made giddy by the perceived heroism of the people on flight 93. I felt the guilt of the survivor, safe, for now, in Boulder, Colorado. I anguished for the loved ones of the lost as they maintained what I knew had to be a hopeless vigil.
And yet, in the middle of this immense human tragedy, there was something else that was begging me to have a look. And then, as I watched for the hundredth time the collapse of the towers, I got it. The two most potent symbols of a world economy that is based on fear no longer existed, and though I wished with all my heart that human sacrifice had not had to accompany the destruction of these symbols, I also knew that it is only through pain that we humans learn, change, evolve – become better at our core.
As I contemplated the symbolic aspects of the loss, an amazing thing began to happen. Though many Americans were angry at the attack on our nation, anger and revenge were not the foremost emotions in our hearts. The foremost emotions were love and compassion for the victims. And the way we showed these feelings of love and compassion was to send money. And we sent it, and are still sending it. And as I watched the numbers rise to 300 million, 500 million, a billion and more, I realized that all of those millions of dollars were sent from the hearts of the people, and that every dollar sent to the families of the victims was imbued with the energy of love. In the midst of this horrible tragedy I could see a glimmer of hope. I saw the embryo of a love-based economy.
A couple of weeks after September 11th, while channel surfing past the fear-mongering news channels, I landed on a rerun of Bill Moyers' 1988 interviews with Joseph Campbell. Campbell was in the process of explaining how throughout history you can tell what is informing a society by what the tallest building in town is. He said that in the Gothic period it was quite evident that spiritual concerns were the main focus of the culture, because the Cathedral was the tallest building. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was the political palaces, and now, he said - and it was at this point that he began gesturing with both his hands – now our focus is on commerce and our economic life. And he raised his hands drawing two towers in the air in front of him. And I thought, yes, but on September 11th with the loss of our culture's greatest symbolic structures, the focus of our society changed forever.
The change is evident in the people's expressions of love and caring. I look around and see people appreciating life as a precious gift - something that before September 11th most had forgotten in the constant chase after material possessions and economic security.
But this new humane focus of the people must be nurtured and supported to keep it from drowning under the constant barrage of fear and revenge that the government and media are foisting upon us in unprecedented doses. And this is the job of women, because we have the tools to do it. We need to nurture the new era with our feminine wisdom that is based on the experience of raising children and building families, not on fighting for and accumulating wealth and power. The symbols of the old ways are gone and the world is ready for a new focus. We women need to become the champions of a new era of caring and sharing, as we create a new economy based on love, not fear.
Terrorism recruits its foot soldiers from the legions of the disenfranchised. To disarm the terrorists we need only to bring the half of the world who lives on less than 2 dollars a day into the embrace of a healthy and balanced, love-based economy. Imagine the possibilities.
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