Terrorism — what can WE do?
But there’s one thing we must all be clear about: terrorism is not the pursuit of legitimate goals by some sort of illegitimate means. Whatever the murderers may be trying to achieve, creating a better world certainly isn’t one of their goals. Instead they are out to murder innocent people.
Fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam.
Feisal Abdul Rauf
Humans aren’t as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were ‘reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.’
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.
Daniel H. Pink
By now the whole world has heard of the horrific attacks in Paris. The whole world, however, may not necessarily have heard of the recent bombings in Beirut. The whole world has also most likely completely forgotten the slaughter in Kenya where Christians were specifically targeted. There are more attacks globally that never appear to get a mention at all.
The monsters who perpetrated these attacks and will most assuredly perpetrate more generally use Islam, a perfectly nice faith, albeit twisted beyond all recognition, to frame their excuses, but I call bullshit. Bullshit. They’re not doing it for their faith. They’re not doing it so they can return the world to the good old days of 500 to 1,000 years ago. They’re doing it because they’re addicted to violence.
These monsters love the suffering they’re causing. Blown up bodies, weeping families, limbs flying through the air appear to delight them or at least bring real satisfaction. The screams and tears of women as they’re first sold and then raped seem to bring them joy. Just look at the faces of the young ISIL fighters as they discuss the women they’ve purchased. They’re pretty fecking pleased with themselves and they’re quite looking forward to their nights of rape. When these people stood behind the men they beheaded, you could see by their stances that they were proud of themselves then, too. They may say they’re doing it to create a world dedicated to only their faith, but they’re not getting a hard-on for religion when they’re about to rape a young girl. No. They’re just monsters and they love being monsters. It makes them feel powerful, like big strong men, because their definition is power-over. They haven’t a clue about the meaning of power-within, nor do they care to.
According to Wikipedia, Islam is the second largest faith with 1.6 billion adherents, running second to Christianity at 2.2 billion. There are more or less 1.1 billion secular people, 1 billion Hindus and then it drops off quite sharply. The Jews so many people love to hate are a mere 14 million across the world. I have heard it pointed out quite reasonably that if every single Moslem was a terrorist, we’d be in a world of hurt. According to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in his article How Many Fighters Does the Islamic State Really Have?, the estimates range from 9,000 to 200,000 fighters depending on the source. That’s a lot of people (mostly men) addicted to violence, but it’s barely a patch on 1.6 billion. Peter Dörrie in his article on the website War is Boring article How Big Is Boko Haram? figures that Boko Haram numbers around 25,000. Add in a plus minus figure depending on deaths, desertions, new recruits, at the highest number, there might be 300,000 terrorists worldwide. That’s an awful lot of people addicted to violence, but against the world population of 7.3 billion (and growing exponentially every minute), that’s still small.
So everybody please ramp it down about Moslems because these people’s taking Islam’s name in vain as an excuse to be violence junkies is just that and is no reflection on the faith itself. Those terrorists who claim to be Moslem are the tiniest of tiny fractions of a perfectly nice whole. What we need to address is the world’s addiction to violence.
It’s a mostly male addiction, although certainly not entirely. There were horrific female guards in the concentration camps during the Holocaust, there are women in ISIL who are armed and set loose to keep the status quo among other women trapped by these people and there are certainly female suicide bombers — although I do wonder what reward they think they’re getting since they’re supposed to be chaste unless married and homosexuality is punished by death, so what they would do with all those virgins is a mystery. But as statistics bear out about violence in general, it seems to be more male than female.
I used to think this could be changed by upbringing but now I’m not so sure. I’m of the Free to be You and Me generation of parents. We raised our children without war toys, to value gentleness and sharing and, for the most part, not to be overly competitive. Imagine my shock when I saw little boys making weapons out of sticks and running about roaring as they attacked each other. It does seem to be, to some degree, intrinsic. Little girls were like that, too, but fewer of them. What seemed most effective was to stop the little hooligans of whatever gender when the attacks crossed over into cruelty and walk them through how it made the other child feel. In the great majority of the children, this seemed to wake them up. They still ran around with their stick weapons, but there was a line and they no longer crossed it. But these were little kids — hippy kids at that. That’s about as small a population as you can get.
So what about the rest of us? What do we do? It’s a very good question. I have some ideas, but there are 7.3 billion of us. Imagine if those enough us who are of sufficient age to think about these things — and I would include children because they’re generally smarter than grownups and have a much smaller ego/bullshit quotient — actually got together and started brainstorming about it? Not only would we get some really great ideas, we would get a good grasp on the fact that we outnumber the monsters, literally billions to one.
I would also start by reading Nicole Fisk’s article on Daily KOS, because there are some pretty wizard ideas in it:
What are your ideas? Seriously. I want to know. My first idea? Mandatory worldwide courses in empathy starting in preschool…