the presence of 9/11

I’ve learned that when a piece of writing stirs me, I need to pay attention. The September 2010 issue of Science of Mind has a number of interesting articles, all of which simultaneously call to me. The one that jumps out at me today is prelude to a disagreement – not an outright argument because I don’t have the luxury of a live opponent – but rather an observation. I disagree with a statement made in one article is about a book ‒ From Cancer to Power ‒ written by its author.

For anyone who is dealing with cancer, the book sounds like it has some excellent guidance, except for one little bit of advice: the formula the author suggests for taking responsibility: E + R = O. This stands for Event plus Response equals Outcome. The author indicates that we are not always in control of what happens to us but because we are in control of how we respond, we can “therefore, control the outcome.”

What a pile of doo-doo.

I am thinking about the people who died on September 11, 2001. Many of them responded brilliantly and survived. Many of them responded brilliantly and did not survive. If survival was the desired outcome (and I am just assuming that it was), then a whole bunch of people did not respond the “right” way. I am not sure what the “right” way would have been for the people on the floors above the impact of the airplanes as there was no possible way to escape except to grow wings and fly. They were helpless, deeply submerged in a disaster that could not be undone.

Ditto for the people who were on the airplanes.

This simplistic solution for controlling our destinies has me a bit aggravated. I have not read the book, but I am hoping . . . a lot . . . that the author went on to define what she means by outcome. The implication of E + R = O is that if we respond in just the right way to each event, then we can control what happens next. That absolutely is not true and it sets people up for self-recrimination and blame when the outcome is not the one they had aimed for. That this idea is planted in a book whose audience is people dealing with cancer scares me. The author battled cancer and survived, but her methods were just that: her methods. They worked for her. They may or may not work for other people. None of us can ever know what life is like inside another person’s experience.

Control is an illusion. The only outcome we can truly control through our response is how we behave.


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11 Responses to “the presence of 9/11”

  1. ButterfliesGalore-Kimberly Grady Says:

    Yes, I agree that this is doo doo! There seems to be something from the equation or the whole thing is incorrect. Certainly the desired outcome is not always good, expected, or even in our control. Control is truly an illusion.


    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Kim — it was disappointing to read that in a magazine that I hold in high esteem so I am hoping that it was an editorial misprint. I might send an e-mail to the editors to double check on my interpretation because I doubt that I would ever buy the book for that reason.

  2. sandiwhite Says:

    Very good and very real. Often times control is a word used to mean “I had it my way”. An iffy thing all the way around, in a confrontation when one side gains control as a rule the other side has lost control. In the case of the 9-11 disaster we lost control? Is that right? The outcome was an unbelievable nightmare for all Americans everywhere and right thinking people through out the World. But we Americans stood together and cried and swore and mourned and had the most heartfelt sense of unity we had experienced since World war II. We took our grieving nation and, for at least that period in time, believed “United we stand, divided we fall.” We were One, and we had Control.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Sandi — I think that we controlled our response to 9/11 very well. It is too bad it takes disasters to make us come together in unity. There are times when control means the difference between life and death. I once heard someone describe the landing of an airplane as being a “controlled crash.” At work, we have security guards who have loaded guns. I often wonder how well those guards have been trained to control their emotions and reactions.

  3. Gil Says:

    I agree that control is an illusion. I am reminded of the words to a song.

    War by Wumpscat.
    And suddenly there was war/ we didn’t remember it /
    A long time forgotten /there suddenly was war /
    And suddenly there was war/ our children are dead /
    Burnt in the ruins/ that were left by war


    And suddenly there was war /and the mothers they screamed/
    For revenge and reprisals for another war/
    And suddenly and suddenly/
    And suddenly there was war/ with spoiling and death /
    And you fight alone if there’s another war /

    Whole Life Is War /and whole life is pain /
    And you will fight alone in your personal war


    This is war


    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Gil – thanks for coming by. I hope all is well with you. Thank you, too, for the song. We are all warriors in our private battles to live life fully in spite of ourselves.

      • Gil Says:

        I can remember the 9/11 incident like it was yesterday. So much senseless suffering. I hope one day to find the larger meaning in this.
        At the moment I am employing the tactic of “passive resistance” in order to overcome the oppressor in my private battle to live life fully. I am living fully, embracing both suffering and joy.
        I will leave you a PM on anewgaia.

  4. holessence Says:

    BIG, GIGANTIC, HUMUNGOUS, STANDING OVATION here Barbara. You’ve nailed it squarely on the head.

    “The only outcome we can truly control through our response is how we behave.”

    I oh-so-applaud this blog post. THANK YOU!!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Laurie — I bow to the clapping of hands. My choice over how I behave and act is a prevalent theme in my life right now. It even goes so far that I am currently examining my “need” to have six scoops of ice cream rather than one or two. It does not help that I buy the most delicious ice cream ever made: Butter Almond. So, I need to examine my response to that ice cream and see if I can come up with something different.

  5. holessence Says:

    Six scoops of ice cream? Calorically speaking I’d have to cycle about 53 miles at a consistent rate of 11 mph for my body to consume those calories. Yowza!

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