Terrorism begins with people who feel a profound sense of anger, hurt, loss and isolation (a lone shooter; individuals who are lured into joining ISIS). Longing for connection, they lash out at the world around them. They allow themselves to believe that they’re outside of the human family and this perpetuates a belief that human life is expendable and unimportant.
The problem: Systemic isolationism
Consider for a moment the ways in which we humans isolate ourselves. We live in apartment buildings full of people, yet do all we can to avoid our neighbours. We travel on buses and subways and bury ourselves in our screens or stick ear buds in our ears to tune everyone out. We avoid eye contact. We look away as people pass us on the street. Between technologies that encourage us to interact from isolated locations behind a screen to this general culture of isolationism even within a crowd, we’re pulling ourselves further and further back from other people. What is missing from this equation is the simple truth that we are never alone.
All things have a profound impact on each other—global economies, cultures, environments, political systems and our minds, bodies and spirits. Our sense of disconnection (from each other and from global challenges) causes suffering and “dis-ease.” We become fearful of what we feel separate from, and it feels harder and harder to choose love in the face of fear.
However, this systemic isolationism is a result of faulty thinking! When we see each other as separate and different, we feel the need to compete. We believe we’re on opposing teams. We see the differences between ourselves and others and focus on them, creating fear of anything that doesn’t match with our lifestyle and worldview.
When we see each other inclusively, as members of one human family, we can see the need to work together. We’re on the same team; we help each other out. We celebrate our differences and allow opportunity to receive new information and ideas that we may not have thought of on our own. Our potential for growth becomes exponential as we include more ideas and more diversity into our ways of living.
The solution: Focus on connection
Change starts with each of us, and the global value of connection can help us to make the internal shifts we need to make. Our sense of disconnection is an illusion. We’re not isolated from the rest of the world, no matter how we may try to wall ourselves off. We can choose to live in isolation and fear, or we can choose to live in connection.
If we change our thoughts, we can truly change the world. It’s not always easy at first, but it’s certainly possible. Even those who already consider the larger human family as one may find themselves challenged by people in their lives whom they find irritating! If we start with our own lives, the people immediately around us who “push our buttons,” we can begin to soften our reactions and focus on choosing love. We need to reprogram and rewire our minds. Disconnection causes isolation and fear; connection produces love.
Collectively, we’re more powerful than when we try to do things all on our own, and healing our human family requires partnership. In this light, globalization can be a good thing! Consider it as an opportunity to collaborate with people all over the world, helping each other in ways that were previously unimaginable. On the other hand, globalization through an isolationist perspective is about power and an us-versus-them mentality. That is the kind of thinking we need to reverse, and it starts within each of us.
Shift your perspective and begin to see each person as part of one human family, one body of life. From there, realize that it’s in our own self-interest to help each other out. Let’s shift away from a zero-sum game of I-win-you-lose to a win-win; let’s go from me to we. To heal terrorism, all people must have the opportunity to feel safe, secure and happy in their lives. We have the power to co-create a world of connection where that is true, and the time has never been more perfect to take loving action, here and now.