[saymaListserv] Vengeance

Michael Austin Shell bright_crow at mindspring.com
Fri Sep 14 19:47:55 JEST 2001


Last night I could not sleep.  In writing to a dear circle of online Pagan
friends, I finally found words to express part of the distress with which I
am struggling.

(If you are uncomfortable with Goddess language, please understand that to
me God is Mother-and-Father, and that you may use your own language in

Blessed Be,

Thursday, 13 September, 2001
(around midnight)

Dearest Dark and Bright Ones,

I am holding all of you in the Light.

I am holding in the Light all of those striken by Tuesday's terrorist
attacks.  Each moment that I ponder what was done, my horror increases.
There is no justification for the evil these people have done, and the
Divine One will convict them.

But I am also holding in the Light all of the world, which now awaits in
dread the unholy vengeance which we, the most powerful and self-indulgent
people on earth, are working ourselves up to unleash.

Those of you who know of my Quaker convictions will perhaps understand...
even if you are angry against me... that I cannot and will not share in the
nationalist rhetoric, warmongering and language of retribution which is
flooding the airwaves in the wake of these crimes. 

"Nations" are a lie we tell each other in order to perpetuate a false
hierarchy of deserving and undeserving peoples.  There are no nations.
There is only humankind, together with all the other life which lives upon
the Mother's breast.  Innocents suffer and die all over the world for the
sake of this nation or that nation.  But there are no nations.  There are
only people, choosing daily, by commission or omission, who they believe
deserves the blessings of life and who does not.  None of our hands are
free of this blood.

Now the unrighteous vengeance taken against us as a "nation" by these
terrorists is conjuring up among us a call for vengeance on our own part.
But vengeance is a double-edged sword blade with two points and no handle.
It only destroys; it never protects or heals.  Each time the blade is swung
in any direction, it claims a higher price than before.  The blade we are
about to swing was already destroying nations before the Hebrew people
thought to tell the stories which their Testament records.

I am not preaching idealism.  Nationalism is an ideal.  Vengeance is an
ideal.  The reality is that there is one, whole body of life on this
planet, and anything we do to lift up or to bring down one part of that
body, separate from the others, makes that body bleed.

The Goddess knows this.  She will use her own cleansing sword of justice,
but she will not share in our call for vengeance against her own flesh.

In Shadow and in Flame,

Blessed Be,

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