Like most South Asians, I've been thinking a lot about the Mumbai blasts and I'd be a complete twit not to post some of my thoughts here.
In India, this attack has been called the "Indian 9/11." Through various listservs I'm on, I've had the chance to read about people's reactions and they vary greatly. Some are outraged, rightly so, and glad most of the perpetrators (all but one, I believe) were gunned down. Some are shocked and dismayed at the Indian government's slow (or lack of) response to the situation and the subsequent chaos that ensued on a political level.
All of this does, indeed, remind me of 9/11 here in the U.S. Bush's slow response to the crisis, then the "bomb everything to find weapons of mass destruction" brigade. The response of "kill them all" is a frightening one in what is supposed to be a civilized society. I understand the fury, the outrage, frustration, and pain behind this cry. But the actions we take after terror tactics is most important if we're to avoid further terror attacks. And no, I don't believe the answer is to "kill them all." Because, really, the terrorists who carry out the attacks are the foot soldiers, not the generals. The ones getting shot and killed during the terror attacks are not the ones giving out the orders or planning the attacks or carefully building ideologies. And so far, none of the masterminds behind these "terrorism" tactics have been caught and brought to justice.
Why would this be the case? After all the attacks over the years, why haven't any of the heads or leaders of these attacks been captured and brought to trial? I can't be the only one who's thinking this might be a good plan of action. And the terrorists -- are they really that much smarter than our elected officials and military leaders?
What's most remarkable are some of the comments I've read on South Asian listservs and blogs. The discussion invariably comes down to religion. Hindus throw out the fact that Hindus live in poverty in India, too, and Muslims don't really have it that bad, and "Look, Hindus aren't out there terrorizing innocent people!" Muslims condemn the attacks and throw out reminders that Islam is truly a religion about peace.
And we're back to square one.
Religion is supposed to help us connect with a larger life force. It is supposed to offer us guidelines and methods to live our lives fully and in harmony with those around us. Religion is supposed to teach us about ourselves and about Life.
What I am seeing is true spirituality being hijacked by a few who are crazed with power-mongering and greed. They are good planners, they are great manipulators. And they are empty and hungry, using other people's children to fulfill their missions. They are using a true desire in good folks -- the desire to connect with that larger life force and to receive guidance about themselves and Life -- to manipulate young, spiritually hungry people (mostly young men) into committing egregious acts.
And I'm not just talking about Muslim terrorists or Sikh terrorists or Irish terrorists. Terrorists come in all colors, backgrounds, and political affiliations because greed and power-hunger come in all colors, backgrounds, and political affiliations.
Long ago, there were huge, elaborate temples and churches built to honor the spirit. Many of these are still standing. They are some of the most stunning architecture and wondrous beauty created by humankind on this planet. Today, we do not build these structures to spirit. The temples constructed today are temples to consumerism. Is it any wonder that so many young men and women are desperate for something more real? Something that will nurture a spiritual emptiness created by a world that reveres materialism?