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Monday, October 26, 2015

Why Are People Turning to Violence/Terrorism?

Last week I heard a brief news report that two high schools students had been arrested for plotting a shooting spree at their high school.  These students were not planning an original act.  High school shootings have happened before.  These students were going to conduct a copy cat event that has received widespread attention in the media before.

Throughout history individuals have turned to acts of violence as a means of making a statement; as an extreme method to express their disagreement; or simply to just get attention.  These actions have represented their way of voicing their "views" or "feelings" toward issues or subjects.  Or these events represent those individuals making their mark in their life.  They may have been ignored all their lives and given no attention.  Maybe it's attention that they craved? They have chosen to use violence as being their historical event and contribution to society. Their violent actions have been both against people who they disagree with and against innocent people.

Why do people turn to terrorist acts and why do they inflict violence onto those not even involved in the subject matter or issue?  Well I've never spoken to a person who carried out these acts so I do not have any first hand knowledge of their reasons.  It is disturbing that in these United States of America we do have individuals pursuing alliances with violent groups.  We've heard news reports of young people attempting to leave the country to join ISIS.  Plus the myriad number of shootings at various public places across the country.  For the assailant to have murdered innocent people raises questions of whether they were stable mentally?  Did the assailant value the lives of people?  Why do they commit suicide after committing these heinous acts?

One thing seems common.  They are copying actions taken by others and reported through media. So what should the media do?  Would it be better if the media did not mention any personal information about those who commit these acts of terrorism?  Should the media not publicize their name or share a photograph?  What is gained by sharing with the public the assailant's personal information?  Their was one event recently where the sheriff in a town refused to even say the murderer's name.  Maybe that is the way to go.  Don't give these murderers any publicity.  Don't feed information that can be copied by others to commit similar crimes.

But these acts of violence seem to fall into the mental illness category rather than the "terrorist" category.  Terrorists appear to have some type of political/religious agenda behind their actions.  Terrorists give up on discussion and dialogue as an answer to disputes and turn to violence.  The violent acts by themselves do not result in disputes being resolved.  The violent acts escalate the dispute to an even worse level.  The acts of violence result in innocent people being harmed or killed.  How do terrorists rationalize the taking of innocent lives?

Terrorism appears to be the result of people giving up on peaceful means of resolving conflicts.  Terrorists don't want to commit to the political process. Or they may have been turned away from the peaceful process because they did not get the results they desired.  If an individual has a point of view that they believe matters and that viewpoint is ignored, what is the result?  Some may walk away and live their life as they choose. Others may believe violent acts are the answer. Maybe we have to relook at our institutions and processes to ensure they don't push people out the door into the terrorist lane.  A person excluded from a process will find other means to make a statement.  Unfortunately violence or terrorism appears to be the process many are taking to express disenchantment or their views.

No, we can't all agree on everything.  But maybe we can compromise to the point where acts of terrorism are not even an option.  Or maybe we need to simply agree to go our separate ways and respect each other's views.  Neither of us gain from the violent acts of terrorism.  Violence has been a method used by people throughout history.  But, violence has been shown time and time again to not be the answer.