The words uttered by President George W. Bush on March 17, 2003 still echo in my head.
They remind me of when I was a little kid.
I used to love the Lone Ranger I sometimes miss the days when it was so easy to know who was good and who was bad.
"Honor", "Oath", "Resolve and Fortitude", "Duty", "Prosperous and Free"
The bombs did start to fall and I am still mourning for the many nameless people who senselessly lost their lives and for the many more who will be killed in the weeks, months and years to come.
You need to ask yourself, how is it possible that you have a government you feel does not represent you.
George Bush did not come into existence overnight. He is a son of this beautiful, but complex country just as you are.
The cultural and psychic collective of this country carries the burden of unspoken guilt and shame of its past.
Like a woman who secretly knows of her husband molesting her only child.
And just like this woman in denial, obsessively cleaning the house, taking care of her appearance, while in public always wearing a smile on her face, to make sure she and others are convinced of her perfect little world - this country has been obsessively holding on to the ideal of always being the knight in shining armor.
You need to ask yourself the questions you do not dare to answer.
You need to listen to the answers you do not want to hear.
The measure of the horror of war or hate inflicted upon others should never be solely judged by a statistical assessment of the number of victims, but by the disregard for human life and the contempt for its very dignity.
Held up to that standard Mr. Bush and his companions had committed many crimes, before they had taken just one single life in Iraq.
However I suspect, if Mr. Bush could see a truth in this, he probably would start to drink again.
The way out of the mess we are in, is to be inspired to find humanity in each and every individual we encounter.
Only if we admit our mistakes and crimes, go through the whole cycle of shame, guilt and understanding and finally forgiving ourselves, will we be able to live our lives authentically without the plastic veil of skin deep, toxic perfection
Life is just never black or white.
The truth for why we do live in a world like this, in spite of all of our potential, lies within ourselves, call it what you want: heart, mind, spirit, psyche, soul.
Only if we can find the valor and honesty to embark on this journey of inner exploration will we find the peace in the world we all are aching for.
The question is: if we allow ourselves the liberty of complexity, must we not extend this measure to all other human beings?
So, let me tell you about evil.
I come from a dark place in human history.
I come from a country rich with chronicles of contributing and changing the landscape of what we call the western world.
A country, which over centuries remained, filled with idealism and passion, driven to put the intellect into the service of humanity.
I come from a country where the people in a period of economic despair and a hurt sense of security were not willing to face their own flaws and shortcomings.
I come from Germany were my cultural heritage contains a time where my people took everything that they could possibly despise within themselves, and projected it onto one particular religious congregation, another ethnic grouping, people loving members of their own sex, people with "mental disabilities" and people who lacked the prescribed patriotism.
And with cold perfectionism my ancestors erased over 6 million people from the face of the earth.
Diversity within the human race should evoke nothing but comfort in our hearts for it shows, even in moments when there seems to be no way out, there is always the possibility of a new perspective.
Let me tell you about evil.
I had a grandfather I loved very much when I was a child.
He indulged the tomboy in me and he made me laugh.
School later educated me about the unspeakable horrors of the 3rd Reich.
And the valor of a few Germans, who gave their lives while standing up to a criminal government, which did not represent them.
I could not wait to find out about the honorable deeds, I imagined, my beloved grandfather had committed out of the goodness of his heart.
But to my dismay "shaking the hand of the Führer at a Reichsparteitag in Nürnberg" my Grandfather still did consider one of the most profound moments of his life.
He had been an active member of the NSDAP and he served in the SA during the war.
It took me years, past my grandfather's death to find peace with what seemed paradox.
But I eventually understood.
Even in the darkest soul flickers a spec of light.
But if you take away everything people could love or feel loved by, replace it with fear and low self-esteem, people will hold on to any ideology, which gives them a sense of higher purpose, meaning and superiority!
Unwillingness to face inner conflict will always express itself in the outer world.
I do not walk the earth with the ability to see goodness in everyone.
There is injustice, there is hate, there is violence and there is oppression. And exactly because of that we must challenge ourselves to find a way of coexisting in this world, so less people are compelled to act out fear.
The earth is not a harsh, competitive environment.
It is a wonderful, miraculous place and in addition to that, it will be whatever we make it to be. The choice is ours.
If we consider more shades of gray, we will recognize the intricate interconnectedness of all that is and we will become aware of the magnitude of the give and take, which truly sustains the world we live in.
There is no time for falling asleep on the wheel; this is our life and our responsibility.
And there is a lot at stake.
There is also great opportunity, potential for innovation and creativity, and it is right in front of us.
Do not fall for the fear that there will not be enough for all of us.
We cannot allow ourselves to remain in inner paralysis, like a mental patient, victim to a false diagnosis, strapped into a straightjacket, filled with anger and despair, while anaesthetizing ourselves with mindless consumption.
I dare you to consider that fear is the root of our problems.
I also dare you to perceive that love and idealism is more potent than any other force in the universe.
Idealism. The willingness to transcend a situation or a moment in time, "simply" by virtue of changing one's perspective. One of the greatest characteristics, humanity can call its own.
Driven by the unspoken knowledge that there is humanity in ALL OF US.
The goal needs to be to create a world society in which blind violence, greed and fearful domination simply bear no incentives.
How do we get there? I do not know.
But why not at least try? Let us be conscious and creative, imagine the impossible and do the unthinkable. Ask, Listen or Speak up. Only you know what those deeds are for you. Therein lies the beauty of individuality.
This may well take longer then our individual lifetimes, but we have to consider that our acts permeate through time and generations past our death and that they greatly matter however small they may appear.
It will not be easy.
My impulse is to say: be not afraid, but one important step in the possible evolution of human kind would be, to acknowledge one's feelings and recognize that they do not define us they do let us experience life.
So be afraid, be sad, be angry, but do not despair for you are not alone.
J. Schaefer is an artist and a thinker. She grew up with having to come to terms with the complexity of good and evil of being German. She has been living in the US for almost 10 years and has a deep affection for this country. E-mail: email@example.com