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David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole.
If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is © 2014 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.
~ David’s Desk, Current Issue ~
I want to pay tribute this month to the passengers of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 who died when their plane was shot down by an anti-air missile over eastern Ukraine. There are so many tragedies that one can see on the news these days: the civil war in Syria, the new conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the spreading outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, and so many people dying from them. We do not lack for victims to write about. But the people on board Flight MH17 were not intentionally entering a warzone nor were they going to an epidemic hot spot. They were pursuing peaceful pursuits in what I’m sure felt like a safe environment—a commercial airline at a high altitude—not contemplating that they were entering into danger or could be in fatal jeopardy,
Most of those who died on this airliner were Dutch citizens. A close friend of mine lives in Amsterdam, and her emails about the reaction in the city and among her countrymen and women made the event more personal to me than it might have been just seeing it as images on the television. I felt deeply the loss of these people and the horror of how it occurred.
But then something else began to happen. Perhaps my friend was a link for it; perhaps by seeing the mourning through her eyes when the bodies were returned to the Netherlands, and she and her husband joined thousands of others who marched through the streets of Amsterdam in tribute, created a deeper resonance for me with the passengers of MH17. I don’t know. What I do know is that from time to time, I felt the brush of an inner contact that said, “Please don’t think of us as victims.”
This got me wondering just what this was. Was I in psychic contact with one of the passengers, gone from the physical world but now alive in the non-physical dimensions? I’ve had many such contacts over the years, so it was a possibility. But it didn’t feel that way to me. It didn’t have the sense of a particular identity behind it. It felt more like one of those joint communiqués that issue from meetings when many individuals come together to arrive at some common conclusions.
But why this statement? What did it mean? Not think of them as victims? How else to think of these men, women and children who had become collateral damage in a civil war?
The more I thought of this, though, the more I realized what it meant, at least to me. If I had been one of those passengers, I would not want my whole life reduced to and summed up in a single word, especially not the word “victim”. This would be a perfectly appropriate designation of an event in my life but it would not define my life as a whole. The word victim conveys a sense of powerlessness and helplessness; there is a passivity about it. Something has been done to me. I would not wish to be remembered as someone to whom something had been done but rather as someone who in my life had the power to do things. I would want to be remembered as an expansive, creative presence.
In fact, the passengers of MH17 were powerless and helpless to prevent individuals on the ground from targeting them. They were powerless and helpless to stop the missile from destroying their plane. But they were not powerless and helpless people in their lives. To let the event that terminated their participation in the physical world become the last word on who they were—and are—would itself be a tragedy.
Of course, in the world as I experience it, the passengers of MH17 are not dead but are alive and as creative and powerful as ever in a non-physical realm. I’m sure they would like to be thought of in those terms rather than as simply as lifeless victims. But even if we don’t believe in an afterlife and the continuation of one’s personal identity and consciousness, we would still want to hold these individuals in our memory and in our hearts as people with full lives, influencing and bettering their world as every human being can do. We would wish to honor their full humanity and not reduce it to the status of victim.
The idea of “victim” also carries with it an aura of sorrow and pain, and it’s understandable why this would be so. But whatever the circumstances of my death, I would want people to remember me or feel my presence in way that brought them joy, not sorrow. For this to happen, they should remember me in the brightness of my life, not just in the shadow of my passing.
There is real tragedy and sorrow in the deaths of the passengers of MH17, for their creativity, life, love, and power is removed from us in the physical word to our detriment. If there are victims here, it is all the rest of us for we have lost the gifts of their physical presence and activity. But this is true when anyone dies for whatever reason and we who remain are lessened by their departure.
Also, I feel this simple message, “Don’t think of us as victims,” wherever it came from, more widely applies to all of us. Any of us may know loss and tragedy in our lives. Technically, as the description of an event, all of us are victims at one time or another, to one degree or another. But as the definition of our identity, of who we are? No, we are all more than people of loss, people of pain, people of suffering. We all can tap wellsprings of resilience, hope, life, love. This is the amazing capacity of being human. We are more than the events that happen to us. We always will be, in this world or another.
When I first thought of the passengers of MH17, it was easy to think of them as the victims of a horrible and tragic event. But now I think of them as the whole humans they were—and, in my estimation at least, still are; I weep that the fullness of their lives was cut off, but I celebrate that fullness, not the moment of powerlessness that cut it short in its physical expression.
Thinking of it this way, I cannot help but also celebrate the fullness and joy of the lives of each of us remaining in this challenging, beautiful, painful, wondrous world. In this, I feel I have received an unexpected gift and blessing from the passengers of MH17.
David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is ©2014 by David Spangler.
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