December 5, 2015 by Cláudia
Do you remember when you were at school and some kid scribbled your paper to annoy you and then you would scribble his paper as a revenge? Well, the second scribble was always bigger than the first scribble and the third bigger than the second and so on. This is because the act of revenge has to have a greater impact than the act that caused the revenge, otherwise it doesn’t cause the “satisfaction” the revenger is seeking. What would be the point of doing the exact same scribble every time you wanted to repay them for what they did?
My point is, abandoning now the kids’ analogy, violence escalates. People may feel like they’re doing the same thing it was done to them but in reality it gets worse every time.
That’s why it is not possible to fight against terrorism. It is a manifestation of anger and inhumanity therefore war itself is terrorism and making war to fight terrorism is making terrorism to fight terrorism. There is no such thing as fighting for peace. That’s an oxymoron that has no possible realization. Peace is the negation of violence and only peace can bring peace. An act of violence will probably be followed by an act of even more violence. That’s human nature I think, or at least human impulses.
Our response to terrorism is to dehumanize those people, say these people are monsters and all deserve to die. This perspective is easy: we separate ourselves from them and reject that we have something in common. That justifies killing them, because they are not really human, they don’t have lives or feelings.
Although easy, this perspective is wrong. They have motives. These most probably are transcendental and incomprehensible to us but they exist nevertheless. It is easy to dehumanize a anonymous group of faceless people somewhere far away. But maybe this can humanize them a little bit: there are a lot of Western people converting to the their religion and moving to the Islamic State. There was a Portuguese boy whose face came up on all the newspapers. He had a family and a life and maybe I saw him one day on the streets, he lived among us. He’s not a distant or abstract concept anymore. He made himself explode and killed a number of other people.
What takes me hours of sleep is wondering what is going through their minds. For them this is the right thing, how can that be? They are human and therefore they have beliefs. How can this be the right thing? I think the most important thing is to have critical thinking and not be machines. I think the key to solve this problem would be to understand what is going through their minds, and how to solve that anger and violence.
The Western perspective, to eliminate the problem by exterminating them all, is also radical. Demonizing them is exactly their attitude towards us, which is that we are monsters, enemies and need to be all eliminated so that the world can be the place they want it to be. Our politics discourse has been manipulating, they justify bombing somewhere far-off under the pretext of keeping the country safe and by not showing the consequences of this.
In what way does attacking them help? They are not afraid to die, they constantly kill themselves for their cause. To attack them only exacerbates the hate they feel towards the Western, and make them more determined. To bomb and kill them is to become the monsters they think we are and to prove them that we need to be exterminated.
You can’t make war on terrorism because war is terror itself.
Peace is the only answer to war. If one has violence, only peace can cool it down. If one has anger and hate, only love can change that. The only way to stop terrorism is to emanate peace, and peace will get there. So many lives have been lost already, on both sides. I think it is time to be the developed countries we say we are and resist our primary urge to revenge. I say it is time to be better humans, and fight fire with water. Only water can put out the fire.