What follows was originally written in 2003 or so, and came from thinking about what lays at the heart of terrorism, and taking the opposite.
The “heart” of terrorism
Here are three things we would find if we looked into the heart and mind of most terrorists. SInce everybody is unique there are people we call terrorists who don’t share these factors, but if we were to look into the souls of most terrorists we would probably find these three.
1. Using violence to solve problems
There are a lot of things wrong with the world, no matter how you look at it. Just watch the news, or scan the internet, or look outside your door (maybe even inside your own house) and you will see people suffering from all kinds of causes. And a natural reaction to seeing people suffering is to want to do something about it, is to want to solve the problem. But how do you solve the problem? That is the question. For a terrorist, the answer is simple.
2. Duality: Seeing the world as “good versus evil,” “us versus them.”
I don’t know which comes first, the violence or the duality, but they certainly walk hand in hand. In order to kill “innocent women and children” to solve whatever problem you are attempting to solve, you can’t see them as “innocent women and children.” You have to see them as the enemy, as less than human, as things. One way to do that is to adopt a dualistic mindset, to adopt a view of the world that is black and white, good and bad, us versus them. As one of the players in the aftermath of 9/11 said “if you aren’t with us, you are against us.” That is the mindset of duality, one of the factors that leads to terrorism.
3. Seeing the world through a rigid, dogmatic framework
This is similar to duality, but slightly different, slightly more complex. This refers to believing that what we think matches what is; or that how we think about things is how those things actually are. For instance, I could think “if you aren’t for us you are against us” but realize that is just my thought, and it might not actually be true. I think this will make more sense after we look at it’s opposite.