After the Boston Bombing Affair, there is a need to do some deep reflection on what is really happening to our world today, and on the real causes of terrorism. Reflex reactions are not helping any. Catching culprits is half a solution. The Boston bombing caused widespread fear, panic, and anger among Americans nationwide. There was a frenzy in the media and Internet. When the effect of a bombing on an entire nation can match the effect of the bomb itself, fear itself becomes the enemy. And when terrorists evolve from foreigners to American residents, the enemy is now within.
The American homeland security system has evolved by leaps and bounds since 9/11, growing tighter and tighter, until it has now become a form of terror in itself, a victory for the terrorists.
When the homeland security system starts to impose x-rays that could see through passengers, this is the enemy within. When they believe they have the right to look into personal emails and cellphone calls of every American to hunt suspected terrorists, when security attacks privacy without the consent of citizens, this is the enemy within.
The day after 9/11, every suitcase at every airport had to be opened and checked. At Kennedy Airport, when flights were finally restored, the line was three kilometers long. When the life of every American is disrupted, when he acquires negative feelings of bias, hatred, panic, and a neurotic fear and suspicion that every incident is a terrorist plot, that around the corner, a terrorist lurks, this is the enemy within.
Let us view the vicious circle. Step 1 is a devastating terrorist act. Step 2 is an over-reaction, a panic alert, a tighter security system, a long term effort to catch culprits, which is good, but it does not solve the problem. For example, the assassination of Bin Laden was less of a triumph over terrorism but more of an invitation to terrorism. Step 3 is a lull and a easing of tension. Step 4 is a new terrorist act when everyone is asleep months or years after. Step 5 is another over-reaction, an even tighter security system. The problem is, in this vicious circle, the terrorist always has the initiative. No matter how sophisticated a security system is, it just sits there waiting for the enemy to move. Security becomes essentially reactive. The terrorist can wait forever, strike anywhere using new creative approaches and technologies away from new high-tech security measures. When security grows tighter, it then becomes part of the terror itself.
The Ultimate Causes of Terrorism If you take a helicopter view, the ultimate causes of terrorism may have been American acts committed many years ago many miles away. The first step is for Americans to see the connection. There is a history and a geopolitical factor in every terrorist act.
An American drone kills five terrorists and 25 innocent civilians. Sure, they get their target but the collateral damage becomes the enemy. This catalyzes terrorism not immediately but in the long term. It exists in the heart not only of the survivors and the relatives of the victims but also of the entire nation. The US drones today are in fact ‘radicalizing’ (an anti-terrorism word) not only the entire Middle East, but loyalists within America. Vengeance is then executed somewhere in an obscure American city after 5 years. An eye for an eye. Innocent civilians for innocent civilians. The Allies bombed Berlin because the Germans bombed London. Beyond other motives, Hiroshima was a subconscious response to Pearl Harbor.
Few see the connection of ultimate causes, and even if they do, the terror itself blinds them into fear and anger. Was 9/11 triggered by the existence of American military presence in the heart of Islam (Dar Ul Islam) which started two decades ago? Many Americans do not see the connection. One must think beyond the terror act and catching the culprits, and have a sense of history. The Guantanamo tortures, the alliance with nuclear Israel, the clandestine surveillance by stealth aircraft in Iran, the stealth-sub probes along the China coastline, all affect not only terrorism, but future wars. They are ‘pre-terrorism acts’.
At the heart of terrorism is American militarism. The Americans will risk a nuclear confrontation when the enemy is at their door step, as in the Cuban crisis, the Kennedy-Kruschev confrontasi. Yet they are doing the same abroad today, military bases in the Middle East, invasions on the pretext of WMDs, encirclement of Russia and China. There is no choice but to have a radical reaction, as Americans had in Cuba. American militarism is inviting conflict and terror, triggering consequent global arms escalation, which will someday usher in World War III.
The Solution to Terrorism
There are no hard and fast rules, but if the causes to terrorism span decades and involve events across the entire planet, mainly American militarism, the first step towards a solution is awareness of ultimate causes, which should dispel bias, hatred, and vengeance. The second step is stopping the vicious circle. It may involve American initiative and goodwill, hopefully triggering a positive response from enemies of America. Both Americans and Arabs have to somehow replace an-eye-for-an-eye with goodwill-for-goodwill. But this is so hard to do if you are bleeding, or full of anger and hatred from the memory of a carnage a decade ago. The history of wars through the millennia proves this human dilemma. [The author has been a senior columnist for various papers in the last 20 years, radio-TV broadcaster, freelance TV documentary producer, university professor, healing ministry blogsite manager. Reactions to email@example.com]
____________________ Ministry Inspirationals
COPING WITH CHAOS the ten commandments of inner peace
In the old days, I would take a fast refreshing jeepney ride in the evening from Governor Forbes along Dapitan to Quiapo for ten centavos, arrive at Ma Mon Luk in five minutes, and buy a huge tasty siopao for a peso. Life was simpler and there was always time.
Today, I would take the same ride in the evening for seven pesos, breathe a lot of carbon monoxide before I arrive in 30 minutes, if I was lucky, and buy siopao half the size, with more starch than meat at quadruple the price. It is an economic principle – life degrades fast as population grows fast.
In the 60s, with a P300 salary, one could hang out with friends for beer three times a week and have extra money for mundane purchases. Today, a salary of P20,000 is too small for basic necessities. Life has become expensive and complex.
We are also victims of chemically mass-produced food. In the old days, cancer was rare. Today, it kills more per day than in World War II. Expensive ‘effective’ medicine are discontinued after being discovered to be cancer-causing ten years after they are released in the market.
We are all victims of a fast-shrinkng world. Time is getting cramped. We are so busy yet so bored. Half of our lives is spent on endless traffic and queues. We may not know it, but we are going into an uncontrollable tailspin.
There is so much to do and we have no time, yet we really have done nothing meaningful or substantial. We work twice as hard for half the money. We wallow in ever-increasing tasks that make us cold unthinking robots. Globalization and Internet have changed our lives. Just getting the news from the newspaper or from television, we realize how much conflict and chaos are percolating everywhere.
In the old days, one could quietly sneak into a church and say a prayer. Today, there is no or little time for prayer.
So how do we cope with chaos in our lives? We need to step back from the rush and the crowds. Here are some unsolicited prescriptions –
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF INNER PEACE 1 start feeling and stop thinking; 2 create an inner garden where you can take a retreat from the world and be by yourself, where time is not important, where you can rest from making money that buys less and less, where you can stop worrying; where you can enjoy simple beautiful things like sunsets or music or your grandson; 3 be more spiritual and less material, find time to pray; the Lord will help you; 4 be simple, stick to the basics in terms of material needs; cheaper shoes, cellphones, five shirts is enough, some have 4 dozens, more than half unused; 5 be frugal, eat less, more vegetables and fruits than meat, do not over-eat, don’t overspend, live within your means, tear your credit cards; 6 remove yourself from all communication devices when you are in your inner garden; it takes time for waves to die down in a swimming pool after the last swimmer has gone; achieve the wave-less mirror-like pool in your mind; give it time, it is not instant; it is hard to forget problems even for a while; 7 find meaning somehow and avoid absurdity or irrelevance; 8 love and relate to people; make them a source of joy to cater to, talk to, dialogue with, share with; make your day by giving to someone; 9 be gentle to yourself and to others; get angry less, be more patient, anger clogs your aortic valves; gentleness unclogs them; laugh at the obnoxious and arrogant, don’t let them give you ulcers, or should I say, don’t give yourself ulcers because of them; who are they to make your life miserable; 10 be humble when people insult or castigate you, whether you are to blame or not; you will find that it feels good and refreshing in the end to be humble; when arrogance becomes a habit, it is a disease, it can even cause cancer. In all there are just a few magic words – the three S’s – simplicity, sharing, sensitivity. This is how to cope with the ever-increasing chaos the world offers you.
fight the chaos from without with the harmony from within
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