Friday, December 3, 2010

Moral Injury

Surah 5, verses 27-32

27. Recite to them the truth of the story of the 2 sons of Adam. They each presented a sacrifice. it was accepted from one but not the other. Said the latter : "Be sure I will kill you." Surely said the former, "God does accept the sacrifice of those who are righteous."

28. "if you do stretch your hand against me, to kill me, It is not for me to stretch my hand against you to kill you: for I do fear God, the Cherisher of the worlds.

29. "for me, I intend to let you draw on yourself my sin as well as yours, for you will be among the companions of the fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong."

30. The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him and became (himself) one of the lost ones.

31. Then God sent a raven, who scratched the ground, to show him how to hide the naked body of his brother. "Woe is me" said he; "Was I not even to be as this raven, and hide the naked body of my brother?" Then he became full of regrets---

32. On that account we ordained for the children of Isreal that if any one killed a soul, unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land---It would be as if he slew the whole people: and if he saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.
Then though there came to them many messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

Moral Injury = "perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about an act that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations"----Dr Brett Litz

All of us have had moments when we have disliked another. Dislike has the potential to turn into hate and when we hate, it is easy to forget that the "other" is our brother. When we forget the humanity of another, we also lose our own humanity.---we kill our soul and become of those who are lost. ---but when someone shows compassion and mercy to a lost soul, it is as if we have restored humanity---just as the raven showed compassion and mercy to a killer and showed him how to bury his brother.

Lao Tzu said "voilence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself." In this time of increasing intolerance and war, we must accept that intolerance cannot be fought with intolerance---for those who hate and kill are also our brothers. When any one of us commits a moral injury to himself, we injure all of humanity. My brother's inhumanity is also my inhumanity because we each have the potential to fall into brutality---but my humanity is also my brother's humanity because each of us also has the capacity arise to nobility.

We need to find a way to heal our collective moral injury. We need to see a new vision of the world---one that is based on saving a life instead of killing a soul. One that is based on Uniting instead of dividing, on restraining anger instead of committing excess, on giving instead of taking, on "inviting to all that is good and enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong." (Sura 3, v-104)

"One should see the world, and see himself as a scale---with an equal balance of good and evil.
When he does one good deed, the scale is tipped to the good----He and the world are saved.
When he does one evil deed, the scale is tipped to the bad----He and the world are destroyed."
----Moses Maimonides.