"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Settling a Score

Verse 31
Tao te Ching

Stephen Mitchell translation

Weapons are the tools of violence;
All decent men detest them.

Weapons are tools of fear;
A decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Wholeness is his highest value.
If the wholeness has been shattered,
How can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
But human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
And delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
With sorrow and with great compassion,
As if he were attending a funeral.

Osama bin Laden perpetrated despicable, heinous acts. His evil, hateful influence ended not only American lives, but lives around the world. If death at the hands of another is ever justified, his death fits that description.

But I am troubled by gleeful celebrations of his death. If we sink to the level of Al Queda, whose members reveled in the Trade Towers’ collapse and deaths from bombings around the globe, hasn’t some basic human decency been compromised? Are we any better than they are, in our revelry over bin Laden’s final demise?

The end of a hateful life is the end of a hateful life. But death taken into human hands is a grave matter, and even when it feels justified, it isn’t a time for a party. Rather we should mourn the depths to which human beings are capable of sinking, and pray without ceasing, for global redemption.


  1. Thank you, Jane, I've felt that all day.

  2. When I heard the news of Osama bin Laden's death, I felt a mix of emotion - relief and fear. As I witnessed the joyful celebrations across our country, it didn't feel right. When I saw some morning headlines "Bin Laden KILLED" I felt a pit in my stomach. As justified as his death is, now I feel sadness. I know hatred on our planet isn't miraculously wiped out with his death. I can't celebrate. There is still work to do, battles to be fought, kindness and respect to cultivate.

  3. Beautifully stated. I absolutely share your feelings. You've put it into words that ought be published to a wider forum.
    Suzanne. Australia

  4. But of course ... I agree with you Jane.
    Carol, Lafayette, CO

  5. I have walked around today with a pit in my stomach as well. I am angry at those who are celebrating... so much so that it overwhelms me with sadness for our own kind. For the inhumanity... and for the cheers of a killing of another, be it a justified one or not. I hold my tongue and secretly hope that someone else feels the same way... so, thank you for making the pit a little less heavy.

  6. I'm with you, Jane. OBL was despicable however it strikes me as evil to celebrate the death of another, even in these circumstances. Furthermore, the jubilation will likely fuel OBL's disciples to act out with more hatred. There are far too many of his followers, making his death less significant because he was but a figurehead to the people who he mentored, brainwashed and shaped into soldiers of hatred.

    Love is, again the answer. I will be continuing to pray for the victims of 9/11 and their families. I will continue to pray too for the doers of evil because they need our prayers if we are to obtain a peaceful state.

  7. Thank you so much for this posting. A time of relief, a time of closure, a time of reflection, but a time of celebration? Let us consider long and hard on the type of humanity we want for our world.

  8. Jane,

    I really appreciate this post and the thoughts that it provokes. I , for one, cannot rejoice at the death of this man. I know that he has committed heinous acts against his fellow man, and I grieve with those so intimately connected with the people he killed, but my heart cannot find joy in it at another persons death. It is a relief, because he can no longer commit such acts and a sense of closure, but not a reason to rejoice.

  9. Thank you, Jane, for putting feelings into words.

  10. You expressed it well Jane. I have felt sick to my stomach when I see the jubilation in the streets and especially saddened when I see the number of young people who are out there celebrating. Is this the future of our country and civilization? We may feel justice for the horrible acts that were committed but to celebrate the taking of a life is unconscionable.

  11. Thank you, Jane, for an always thoughtful post. I completely agree with the sentiment. We were outraged by the street scenes of revelry accented by semi-automatic fire when 9/11 occurred. How is this any different and at what cost?

  12. I agree completely, there is need for reflection, not celebration.

  13. well said Jane, it chills me to see our own youth behaving this way as if somewhere along the line we have missed teaching them that every life has potential for redemption

  14. you found the perfect reading for this event. and your words bring those words of long ago into the present were perfectly written. this sentiment is being echoed by compassionate thinking people all over the world but it doesn't get that much press if any. and you are right we should pray without ceasing for global redemption. thank you for this.

  15. Well said!
    I'm glad it's over, I've been shocked and saddened by the requests for photos of bin Laden's remains, and I would love it if we could simply move on.
    Your words were perfect.......but then they always are!
    Thanks for the comfort.


  16. You've said it all. Thank you.

  17. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who finds rejoicing over a violent death repulsive and sad.