In response to Ben Hoffman’s post https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mission-possible-canada-can-prevent-homegrown-evan-hoffman
Author: Paula Drouin, Founder and President of ADR International Group Inc. has a Master’s degree in Human Security and Peace Building.
Well said Ben! When I was young, communism was blamed for random acts of violence. As a teenager the ‘immoral hippies’ were blamed. In more peaceful times it was ‘teenagers’. I remember my son asking me why people hated teenagers. He was twelve at the time and had been looking forward to becoming one. Then finally Mental Health Awareness campaigns started reaching the majority, however that resulted in blaming schizophrenics, sociopaths, and psychopaths for everything. Later campaigns then started educating people to understand mental health disorders and that not everyone with a diagnosis is dangerous.
Now it is terrorists, which could at least be a description comprised of certain behaviours and beliefs and not just a label. Until of course we use it as a label. Whenever we stop separating the behaviour from the person/people, we create a more complex issue.
Because the term terrorist is now being applied as a label, the ground is set for sophisticated, century long debates that will include intelligent phrases like “we are not the terrorists, you are!”. So how do we avoid that? A good start is by identifying the behaviors that are unacceptable. If we publically said these are the behaviours that are unacceptable and will be punished by law no matter your religion, race, education, socio-economic background…. wait a minute…we actually do that already don’t we!
Someone searching for an identity can’t get what we don’t create. If we stop elevating a crime simply from the crime it is into something with the celebrity status label of “terrorist” then maybe we could prevent some of the “self-radicalized” from achieving that terrorist label. Perhaps manufacturing a bomb with the intent of killing many innocent people could become a shameful act with no label awarded, and no notoriety.
Perhaps we could make it easier for the self-radicalized youth to become the next non-violent activist for the environment or for any cause that requires unrequited passion and devotion, than becoming the next terrorist. It would be a start.
Separating behaviours from the person is a lot of what we do as professional mediators. It can be what we teach our children. It can be what we teach our employees. It can be how, as a country, we communicate our intolerance for the random acts of violence that terrify us because they leave us feeling helpless. The population just needs to know what the crimes are, what the government is doing to prevent them, and what we can do as individuals to protect our families. Without making us afraid of a piece of cloth, or an accent, or the colour of someone’s skin, or their religion. Without fear flooding our brains with chemicals that paralyze us from being able to take rational reasonable action, we will most often take rational reasonable action.
I hope as a country we can role model how to stay out of the finger pointing, blaming, fault finding game and instead continue to create laws and processes to prevent and prosecute criminal acts.