Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2013 but its relevance continues….

Today we look at the Boston bombings, our evolving reaction to those events and our highest vision for the United States.

We were all shocked by the events that occurred during the recent running of the Boston Marathon. Our emotions ran the gamut – first, our hearts were opened for those who were impacted physically or emotionally by their loss. There was fear that this might be the first in a series of terrorist attacks on American soil. There was anger that arose for numerous reasons – that someone could be so uncaring that they could do this to fellow human beings, that someone would disrupt the race and all that it means to us, that terrorist events could occur here in America and more. Love, concern, anger, fear and more moved through us in the aftermath of this tragedy.

As we all know, it has been reported that two young men of foreign origin who had lived here in America for a number of years acted alone in creating this horrible event. One of the young men was killed in a gun battle with police, the other was captured and is now facing trial. Reports have started coming out on how they planned their horrific actions and their reasoning for it. No doubt, we will hear more details in the upcoming weeks.

We are at an interesting point in choosing how to further react to these events. There are certain reactions which are universal. We all condemn the acts of terrorism. We all feel love and support for those who lost life or limbs. We all feel resolute that we should stand proud and tall and continue on our traditional American life by holding open and celebrated events like the Boston Marathon.

But there are some choices being considered in reaction to the bombings on which there is not universal agreement. There are some in the media who criticize how the surviving bomber received his Miranda rights – some believing they were given too soon, others feeling he received them too late. Some in the media are calling for the bomber to receive a military trial rather than a civilian trial – the latter guaranteeing too many “rights” which such pundits believe should not be granted to this individual. Still others see this as an opportunity to expand the role of government in internal surveillance of its populace through such actions as wiretapping, search and seizure, extended detaining of individuals and so on without due process so as to prevent future terrorist attacks in America.

As we continue to evolve in our reaction to this tragedy, we must firmly keep in mind the question “what kind of country do we wish to live in?” Stated another way, we must consider what is the highest vision for the United States?

The fact is, it is our thoughts and actions that create our world. We each play a role in this. The choices we make through our thoughts, words and deeds contribute to the creation of our culture and our government. We must not be swayed by the emotions of the moment into putting in place responses that are not in our collective highest good.

20th century mystic Ernest Holmes wrote, “we cannot enter into peace while we are in a state of confusion. It cannot be done. We cannot manifest love when we have a mental equivalent of hate in our hearts and minds.”

Yes, we all feel disgust and anger towards these bombers because of their actions. Yes, we all fear that the United States may deteriorate into a place where such terrorist acts are commonplace. Yet, we must not let our disgust, anger and fear be the creative energies driving the creation of our future.

If our highest vision for the United States – and the world – is to create a place that is filled with peace and love, then our response to such tragedies should come from a consciousness of peace and love. That doesn’t mean we don’t hold guilty parties accountable. Those who perform such heinous actions should certainly pay for what they did. But in our rush to “judgment”, we should not let our condemnation of the actions of a few override the essential freedoms of all people. Our vision should focus on maintaining the freedoms for all Americans.

One of the reasons America is so great is because we place such emphasis on our personal freedoms. They are so important that our founding fathers insisted on creating a Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to our Constitution – codifying our freedoms. Yes, we sometimes quibble about what they mean – the whole ongoing Second Amendment gun debate being a perfect example – but we never dispute the importance of having such freedoms declared for all to see.

The strength of America is based upon our personal freedoms and the right for each of us to “agree to disagree”. Our freedoms of speech, religion, the right to bear arms, the right to our privacy, for due process and more are examples to the world of how a free and democratic society can thrive where our differences are honored and our diversity is celebrated. We can be that vision of the “shining city on the hill”. However, if we choose to restrict our freedoms out of anger towards the perpetrators of terror or our fear of future terrorist attacks, then we will no longer be that shining example and the terrorist actions will have succeeded in bringing us down to their level.

What shall we choose?

Mark Gilbert

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!