Aggressively fighting terrorism is putting fuel on terrorism. There are other ways.
Relatively (!) seen, terrorism is not the biggest problem. Worldwide, there are 11.7K terrorism deaths per year – mostly in Africa, versus for instance 450K through homicide, 1.3M through traffic accidents, 184K through drinking sugary beverages… Of course, each premature death is one too many.
But the direct deaths are not the main issue here.
Terrorism acts mostly like the wasp in the porcelain shop, stinging the elephant who then runs havoc. The elephant in case is more or less chronologically: the media, public reaction, political reaction, more of the same, then even war, such as ‘war on terrorism’.
The aim of terrorism is to make the elephant run. Thus: the running of the elephant fuels terrorism. More broadly and deeply: displaying aggression towards terrorism hardens both standpoints, including the terrorist one. This is not a new insight, but it has surprisingly little influence.
Fighting terrorism emboldens terrorism.
Alternatively, not fighting terrorism seems weak, indulgent and irresponsible, giving terrorism free reign… True. My statement is therefore incomplete. A better one:
Aggressively fighting terrorism emboldens terrorism.
Huge difference! It’s not the fighting that one should avoid, but the aggression. This is a general principle in many domains of human life, from psychosomatics to world politics… and terrorism.
Terrorists are not ‘the enemy.’ Turning them into such in the minds of many is mainly an act of demagogy, which is itself arguably the worst possible infliction on earth. A better response is to go causal. Why did in the first place this terrorist act pop up as appropriate in the mind of the terrorist?
And what can be done to relieve this? Doing nothing is indeed irresponsible. One should fight, not ‘against’ however but ‘for’. Namely: for circumstances that durably decrease any energy towards terrorism. Much of it is related to physical circumstances. Almost all of it is related to meaning and deeper meaning.
Don’t say that terrorists should listen. YOU should listen, so you can make yourself be heard.
Listening empathically is one of the most valuable human assets. It is necessary to avoid terrorism and its many dire consequences. Moreover, even the future of our species depends upon it.
Aggression breeds terrorism.
Weak and irresponsible is the person who doesn’t.