Write about peace and hate replies
After the attacks in Brussels, I wrote an article about how I believe that to stop the wave of horror; we should try to understand its roots. This article was all about peace and compassion, and, yet, I seem to have hurt people.
I believe that understanding the roots of a problem is the solution towards positive change. When we understand, we can create more options to react to a situation; we do not follow our first instinctive reaction, the animal one. Whether I usually argue that emotions help you to make choices in life, I have to nuance that explanation. It is important to notice our emotions because they will give us information about how we feel (animal reaction) but it is also important to understand why we feel like that (human reaction) and if we believe our emotional reaction will have the impact we want. Not understanding is the problem.
Not understanding creates fear
When we are scared, our instinct will tell us to run away. This reaction is helpful when you are in front of a lion in the jungle, but in front of terrorism, it might not help us at all. Terrorist attacks are based on the fact that we don’t know when and where it will happen. Therefore, if we are scared, the only impact it will have is that we stop to live our lives to avoid what may happen, we foreclose ourselves in our house and wait scared that something happens. And if something actually happens, we reinforce our beliefs that outside is not safe, say to ourselves: “I knew I was better inside than outside”. The results, we don’t live anymore which is exactly one of the purposes of terrorism.
Not understanding creates anger
When we are angry, our instinct will tell us to fight. Again, if we are in front of a lion, and we cannot escape, it is helpful because anger will cover our fear and make us able to fight the lion and hopefully survive. This morning, a woman wrote as a comment to my article that the only solution is the eradication of the Muslims. First, I was shocked, not able to answer anything because this statement is so opposite to my belief, it is something that wouldn’t even cross my mind. I could have been angry after which as a result would have pushed me to answer to her with anger and justifications that are part of my beliefs. However, I chose to try to understand where that kind of reactions could come from. This woman is angry after what has happened over the last months — which I understand because it is horrible. She needs to find a guilty party, and she chooses the obvious one, the man who blew himself up. More than that, she chooses to identify this man to all the other people she believes are the part of the same group as him. On an evolutionary way, it is understandable, if we were attacked in the past by a lion, we would extend the belief that they are dangerous to all the lions without looking at the entire picture. Maybe when the lion attacked us it was because, he had been attacked by a human before, perhaps we went to close to him, and he wanted to protect his groups, maybe he was scared and couldn’t escape and, therefore, attacked us. Therefore, it is not because one lion attacked us one day, that they will all do tomorrow, but for our brain, it is easier to do a shortcut and generalised to all lions.
I would like to make a point here; it is not because I try to understand the roots of what is happening that I will excuse this lady for generalising, such as I will not excuse terrorist attacks because I try to find the roots of them. It does not match my system of values, and so, I feel angry and sad but, I am also a conscious human. I decide that there is another way to react to her reaction than with anger, just like there is another way to react to terrorist attacks. A way that will be more fruitful for peace than expressing these feelings. Peace is more important.
Not understanding creates differentiation
Against terrorism, we need to be one. Unity makes force. We can read that everywhere. And yet, this morning I was so sad to read The Guardian and see that some people are suggesting that the Belgian government was aware of the high likelihood of the attacks and chose not to intervene. I am seriously concerned for our humanity when I read that. We are supposed to be united to erase terror, and yet we are already splitting. Does anyone has considered the option that in every country of the world we don’t want terrorist attacks to happen and we try our best to avoid them? The government of Belgium did not wake up yesterday thinking: “We think today could be a good day to let more than 30 people die and more than 200 be injured.”
Understanding is the key
Try to understand why people around you are acting as they do, try to understand why you act as you do, and in the future choose more and more the way you would like to react.