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Why Terrorism is a Part of Our Life
Defense of the Indefensible?
I think terrorism is the most potent problem facing the human race today, barring perhaps AIDS. And it looks like the world is under a serious and immediate threat from terrorism, the constantly increasing presence of terror making it an issue much more urgent, than, perhaps even AIDS. Over and above the fact that there is no known defense against such wanton violence, some society is always there to support each form of terrorism unlike AIDS, adds to its dreadfulness. Thus, each and every form of terrorism is able to garner the support of some state, making it all the more difficult to combat.
Of course, there can be precautions, but first we have to know its cause. Depending on the source of terror, the general idea of the main contributing factor that is leading to the terror varies. Like, if it is ‘red terror’, that is economic disparity, if it is religious terror, that is something to do with a faith, and, if it is regional terror, that is oppression. I think we are very happy with an endless list like this, and every time an eruption occurs in our society, we start looking for a cause. And we find something amiss, naturally, in one of the local non-uniformities of the society. Notwithstanding the fact that local non-uniformities could be present in any society and, those need not necessarily lead to anything untoward, we quickly establish that as the cause. A few such reasons are shown here. Does this look right?
How Much Do You Agree
Terror is nothing but an irrational form of violence
How it Becomes a Part of Our Life
Of course it doesn’t. One thing interests me. The successful approach, we have been taking so far in finding answers to all the other problems faced by human society, is notable by its absence. Take, for example, health problems. We know, cure for a disease is not the same as symptomatic cure. A doctor’s success depends on how well he is able to identify the underlying cause and eliminate it. Successful solving of any problem can be reduced to an exercise of converting the problem to certain general principles, the response to which is known to us. This is true for every profession, separating the apparent from the real, or identifying the most significant in a collection of possibilities, is nothing but converting the problem to its abstraction. (Ones competence level is in fact a measure of the capability of forming the true abstract representation) Why haven’t we adopted such an approach in the case of terrorism?
When we happened to identify a cause, and applied whatever medicines we thought as suitable, there should have been some decrease in the severity of terrorism. Otherwise, changes should have been made in our approach, the weapon used to fight against terrorism, till a marked reduction is observed. Of course, in almost all matters, this is our guiding principle, we frequently check whether the path taken is correct or not, it is yielding appropriate results, etc. We then make alterations or corrections to our approach based on such results.
Why aren’t we following this pattern? Instead, whatever was the reason we could establish as its cause and, whichever was the path chosen for fighting it, we continue following the same approach relentlessly, having no regard to its efficacy.
Disregarding all that, let us try to find the real reason behind terrorism. As the first step, let us search for its abstraction. What is the aim of terrorism and what do we achieve by that? What is common between the terrorism of different hues? A little reflection can teach us that terrorism never achieves any results; it only enables the terrorists to express themselves. Such actions are plenty; they can be broadly grouped by a more understandable term – irrational acts. In fact, any act, however irrational, may always have some beneficial result in its outcome, and that is why we hold them with reverence, except the purely violent, disastrous ones.
If we analyze irrational acts further, we can see that all of them are but extreme expressions of some of our basic characters or emotions. And these are almost always recognized. Extremes, of inquisitiveness, celebrations, art, craft or music or other welcome facets of human nature get acknowledged, most of the times to a very great extent, showered handsomely with awards or other forms of recognition. Except when it pertains to violence, that too only where it is directed specifically against us, we applaud these acts. Thus when one acts rationally, recognition may result only if sufficient care is taken to ensure that a) nobody is put to disadvantage and b) nobody benefits disproportionately. Whereas when it comes to irrational acts, recognition is almost always assured. Other than the fact that it is more convenient to act rationally, there is nothing attracting us to the rational.
If it is to happen so, that is, if man is to continue having ones affinity to the irrational, some need of the human life is being met by the irrational? Yes, the need, to be occupied always. Concede, even rational acts will serve the purpose of ‘to be occupied’, but sooner or later such an act will reach its culmination. A rational act, as we already know, sooner or later will end in a result. Whereas, the irrational ones are a boon to mankind, we can continue to be busy with such an act, for ever. Also, there might not even be a result, to bring the act to its natural conclusion.
Thus, the real reason behind terrorism lies in the fact that the ‘irrationality quotient’ of such an act is fairly high. Terrorists are destined to be fully engaged and so are those who fight them. Those supporting them as well as those opposing, can very well engage in many other peripheral activities related to this, like building up public mood to support or oppose terrorists, manufacturing historical justifications for their acts, or devising suitable solutions.
What can be Done?
The path to a cure for terrorism therefore should be obvious. And it is a well-defined one too, once we see terrorism as nothing but the irrational form of violence. (In fact, violence itself, to a large extent, is but the irrational form of certain harmless physical entertainments, which in normal times, we do enjoy a lot.) Provide ample avenues for expressing one’s desire for the irrational, while focusing on ways to control that desire, if necessary. (One very popular avenue is alcohol, and we heavily discourage it, not realizing its usefulness!) Along with, we also need to discourage abnormal behavior, which presently receives one’s (at least silent) adulation, except when it is violent and directed at oneself.
I think we are already aware of this. We can see that our healthy societies are the ones that provide sufficient space for the populace to express whatever resentment they may have, identifying some portion of public space for this purpose. (like a park) Also, the unhealthy societies are the ones that are quite illiberal with public display of disgust, that too in any of its forms, like romantic exchanges, fun, etc.