The Sad and Perilous Happenings in the Middle East Today

The horrors of war and the potential for evil in humanity are on clear display once again,  this time in Israel and Palestine.  It is as important to meditate on humanity’s capacity for evil as it is to meditate on our capacity for goodness and divinization. 

Mutually assured loss: “Hamas Threatens Hostage Executions as Israel Prepares ‘Mass Offensive.’” The Wall Street Journal

Both derive after all from our unique capacity to give birth.  Our powers of creativity and imagination can be put to use “to create or to destroy,” as Dag Hammarskjöld used to say.  And today’s news seems all about destroying.

It appears that Hamas has started the fight but in many ways they are continuing a battle that has been waging for decades and has now gone over the top with ISIS-like killings of innocent victims on social media and television. 

Then there are the Israeli threats to cut off all basic supplies to Gaza and invade Gaza, one of the poorest and most overcrowded places in the world where many of the citizens are not in league with Hamas’s brutal tactics and the average income is $1200 per year.

It sure seems like a lose-lose proposition ahead for all parties and especially innocent citizens on both sides.  It brings up profound trauma memories from the past both for Jews and for Palestinians.  A veritable pit of sorrow and loss, anguish and grief.

How was it possible: MSNBC‘s Alex Witt interviews inter/national security experts John Brennan, James Stavridis, and Ben Rhodes on Israeli intel failure in the Hamas attack.

It is hard to surmise how the highly vaunted Israeli military was not prepared for hostilities like this, since many in the know predicted that the very real battle for the soul of Jewish democracy that has played out on the streets of Israeli cities for many months rendered Israel vulnerable and subject to attack. 

The ailing democracy of Israel, brought on in large part by an out-of-control prime minister trying to end the balance of the judiciary vis a vis parliament while he is undergoing a trial for corruption has come home to roost. 

He and his super right cabinet seem to have put all their eggs into the basket of their small-minded ideological battles and forgotten the basic tasks of governing which include law, justice, protecting the citizenry and heeding the peoples’ wishes for maintaining an authentic democracy.  And now this.  May wiser hearts and minds prevail.

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

Banner Image: Shockwaves around the world on October 8, 2023. L: Pro-Palestinian protest in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by VOA on Wikimedia Commons. R: Pro-Israeli protest in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Leonhard Lenz on Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

What are your thoughts and concerns under the new violence being perpetrated in the Middle East?  What lessons can be learned amidst the grief and carnage?

Recommended Reading

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

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13 thoughts on “The Sad and Perilous Happenings in the Middle East Today”

  1. Avatar

    “What are your thoughts and concerns under the new violence being perpetrated in the Middle East?”
    I fear that compassion seems to be running out. Here in France, I hear about the conflict in online newspapers – people in the commentary sections are fighting over ideological biases. Outside in the ‘real’ world, at work and such, not a word.

    What lessons can be learned amidst the grief and carnage?

    My son, who admires Israel and Judaism (we have patrilineal Jewish origins) and has Muslim friends and a Muslim dad, is quite torn. Said maybe the country was a bad idea…
    I have no lessons to offer, but I did show him the Book of Amos which I was lucky enough to study with a reformed pastor who invited a rabbi. However harsh it is, it has this sense of refusing every injustice and corruption not only in others, but also in one’s own society. Its emphasis on justice and on a god roaring like a lion reminds me of the religion of ancient Egypt (maat, Sekhmet).
    Have I learned anything?
    Maybe the lesson is that I shouldn’t think so.
    What is happening today is a very old story, and we haven’t learned much, have we?

  2. Avatar

    The Second Coming

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    Jesus warned that if we live by the sword we will die by the sword (gun, bomb)
    The slaughter of the innocents continues around the globe.
    The global military industrial complex gets rich by ‘feeding the beast’

  3. Avatar

    Another video on Utube on TED – The Israel-Hamas War and What It Means For The World, with Ian Bremmer, posted 1 day ago; is also worth watching, in order to gain a better understanding. As I listened, I understood more clearly how the deep generational roots of fear, jealousy, anger and hate create veils of illusion and seperation; blinding the eyes and hardening the hearts with armoured scales of defence and offence; and the deep traumatic soul wounding that results for all. When one part of humanity intensely suffers these horroring sorrows, the collective whole is negatively impacted as well.

    This is yet another clarion call, to continue kindling the fire, the light, the truth, the beauty way of love, compassion, mercy and justice… where you can, when you can, in ways that you can… keeping that portal open. The image that arises, is that of standing… grounded and centered in the eye of the chaotically raging dark storm. This stance is needed… and it too impacts the whole collective… in a positive, transformative way, well beyond our comprehension and what we can imagine.

  4. Avatar

    See the New York Times article about how Israeli security services failed. But Christian Zionism is as much to blame as anything else: a notion that was first floated by Protestants in the late 1500s, and later took full shape in this order: 1) Jews should be allowed to reclaim their ancestral homeland (so they won’t be in *our* countries anymore); 2) there’s a Biblical prophecy that this will precede the Second Coming; 3) “Hey! We should totally make this happen, so the Second Coming will come sooner!” But key to this eschatology is the wishful-thinking that the Jews will all convert to Christianity, before Christ comes back. Uh, good luck with that: the Jews claimed Israel as a place where they could safely BE Jews, forevermore: no more being chased out of countries, no more pogroms, no more holocausts — and no pressure to convert to Christianity.

  5. Avatar

    Dear Matt,
    Thank you deeply for this meditation today that helps us see our personal and collective capacity for evil. The very issuance of this from you, from your/ our faith-awareness-perspective is profoundly sustaining in the midst of the tragedy of this conflict.

  6. Avatar

    Warriors of Love and Light Unite!!
    The time is now to put into practice all that we have learned to meet and defeat evil. There is a network of light workers and spiritual centers all over the planet holding the power of love and directing it to all in need. Each one of us can connect to this network any time we remember.
    Angels have drawn close to our troubled earth in this moment in time to assist.
    My friend Fr. James Twyman is in Assisi on his way to Israel and Palestine to physically ground a world meditation for
    peace Saturday noon EST. We were together a few years ago
    at the Syrian border for a
    global meditation for Peace. I
    will be uniting with him and all
    that join in the Holy Spirit of
    Love and Peace.
    Please accept this invitation
    to join. If the link does not work google James Twyman world meditation for Peace to link up.
    May Peace Prevail on Earth!

  7. Avatar

    Thank you Reverend Fox, for your succinct description of what is going on in the Middle East. I was not aware of this development, being all wrapped up in my own stuff. It’s really frightening what can happen when corrupt people with twisted ideas get into power. They don’t know how to govern, know nothing about politics; they only know about their own greed. How does this happen? Why are no passionate honest people getting into power? It is so similar to what’s going on here. This kind of evil has been normalized. A lot of good people were silenced by Cancel Culture. I sit there watching all this evil proliferating. Now I call it evil, before I didn’t know what to call it, only that it scared me. The amount of evil I encounter in one day, just living a normal routine, is mindboggling and tragic. Each one of us has to fight it in our own way. Peace is war; freedom is slavery… Who cares what the media is doing? It’s like a god to people. So misguided.

  8. Avatar

    Sending blessings to all concerned because our blessings have an impact, however modest.
    “I bless us in our openness to the cosmic energies pouring onto our planet to help us towards the next stage of planetary evolution as we slowly leave the dimension of materialism, conflict and separation to move to higher dimensions of harmony and growing oneness….Where there is discord or conflict on the material level, may I proclaim the love that unites us as one.” Pierre Pradervand, from…/

  9. Avatar

    Evil leaders offer simplistic solutions based on hate and fear-mongering, and will demonize anyone who opposes them and/or contradicts their sloganistic rhetoric. Ordinary people are suffering and looking for solutions, and authoritarians rush in to assure people that THEY are the heroes who will solve everything: just give them total control because they know what’s best for everyone and they know how to fix everything easily and permanently. They hand out fairy tales of a better world ruled by them alone.

    In the horror of authoritarian and terrorist invasions and massacres, the innocents are being used as pawns in the battles. Slogans and authoritarians don’t help them. Compassion, such as on-the-ground medical aid, food, and water availability and evacuation to safe shelters from bombing are the best messages of love. Blessed are the behind-the-scenes, unnamed aid givers who don’t need to be on stage, giving impossible promises of solving everything or touting themselves as heroes. They do the hard work of peace by actually helping others, regardless of religion and nationality.
    Love is not found in simplistic, authoritarian commands of group loyalty or by the demonization of dissenters. Love works and heals down in the messy complexity of direct. loving human interactions, where people are humans rather than labels.

  10. Avatar

    I would hope that the various political “leaders” in this nation take heed as to the consequences of divisive tactics to mask the real problems and thus perpetuate conflict and show us to be vulnerable to complete autocracy, whether from without or within. I read that Hamas used old school methods of communication to plan the attack, while the vaunted Israeli services were using high tech methods to listen in to all media. The distraction of a corrupt government surely did not help. But this is an old story and an old conflict and repeated over and over again throughout the ages. There are many big and little wars being waged right now, and, as others have also pointed out, only the innocent suffer. I would guess that there are more refugees now than there have ever been. There are many organizations trying to help Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering, and we can support their efforts financially and by prayers. But let us not forget the Eritreans and Ethiopians, the peoples of the Sudan, Yemen, and Syria, where there seems to be perpetual conflict as well.

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