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A Crucible of Political Disenchantment: 'Dismiss Whatever Insults Your Own Soul'

By       Message Phil Rockstroh       (Page 3 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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The television roused itself to life just at the moment of the collapse of the North Tower.

This was before the image was fetishized in the American imagination, was exploited by two U.S. presidential administrations to justify thousands of acts of military aggression on people of distant lands who only share one trait in common--they were born of the Islamic faith.

This was before George W. Bush played dress-up in military costumes and pranced about at military bases and the decks of naval vessels. This was before President Obama's brandishing of kill lists, his normalization and codification into law of Bush era war crimes and constitutional and human rights violations.

This was when the archetypal image of a collapsing tower seized the mind, engendering an analogous collapse of one's mooring and verities. The quotidian touchstones of daily life had vanished, as did alienation.

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We needed each other. Empathy and generosity replaced self-absorption and the illusionary urgency of urban life... vanished were, monomaniacal commercial agendas and compulsive distractions. The streets were gauzy with veils of smoke; the veils had been removed from our hearts.

A feeling akin to love allowed us to face horror, and take ambulatory refuge in compassion and beauty.

Cell phones and bottled water were proffered to strangers. As night fell, candles flickered in public squares; there was the sound of sobbing and impromptu singing. The scene seemed like a cross between the London Blitz and Woodstock. One was fully alive in the realm of death.

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It would have been lovely if that had been the lesson we carried forth from that day, a decade and a year ago. Alas, the political agendas of militarist imperium carried the day. Tribalism trumped the universal exigencies of our common humanity.

Our leaders behaved despicably, and continue to, and we allow it to happen e.g., Democrats boast of Obama "getting Bin Laden" in a reprehensible attempt to gain political leverage from the tragedy" actions that Democratic partisans would have, rightly, shamed a Republican president for attempting to exploit.

Yet the sublime of that day is available to us still. Providentially, there is no need for actual towers to fall" only one forlorn, interior tower to which we have exiled our humanity. No one needs to die" other than the entity within who induces us into habitual denial and exclusively self-serving pursuit.

"[R]eexamine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency ["]"
--Walt Whitman, from the 1855 preface to Leaves of Grass

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Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phil.rockstroh

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