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Faith-linked violence

2017: Continuing Terrorist Attacks.

An essay donated by Contributing Editor, Susan Humphreys.

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So far in the second half of 2017, there have been three terrorist attacks in the United States. Previous recent terrorist attacks have happened in the U.S. and elsewhere. When will terrorists figure out that the attacks aren't putting "terror" into the hearts of people, the attacks are strengthening their hearts?

  • On 2017-OCT-31 -- Halloween -- the most recent case occurred. II involved a single perpetrator who used a rented truck to plow down bicyclists and pedestrians on a special bike/pedestrian walk in New York, NY. This was close to the World Trade Center where the 9/11 terrorist attack occurred during 2001.

  • On 2017-OCT-01, the 273rd mass shooting of 2017 occurred -- the worst in modern U.S. history. It happened in Los Vegas, NV. 59 persons died -- 60 if you include the shooter's suicide. 527 were injured. The shooter's exact motive remains unknown.

  • On 2017-AUG-12, there was violence in Charlottesville, VA. White supremacists, neo-nazis, and the alt right came looking for a fight and did everything they could, it seems, to provoke one. Three died: one person was intentionally rammed by a car; two died in a helicopter accident.

Before and between these events, there were more mass killings.  And I am sure there will be more to come.

This doesn’t even include the mass killings in other countries.

As a society, we need to take a long and hard look at ourselves, and ask what we are doing to create a climate (a culture) that thinks that violence is the solution to our problems.

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All I can think about is that our country (and our world) has become more violent in the last 50 years. There has been a rise in bullying incidents this year in public schools. There has been a rise in hate crimes around the country this year. But it seems no one -- or only a few -- are talking about those incidents.  

Then there are all the incidents of domestic violence, and all the violence on our streets that doesn’t get classified as a mass killing because only one or two die. But again, nobody -- or only a few -- are talking about those incidents.

Could there be a connection? At least a connection in attitudes, that give rise to bullying and hate crimes and domestic violence? Are young bullies, hate crime and domestic violence perpetrators more likely to become the next generation’s mass murderers?

The talking heads and our nation’s leaders are discussing how a city can protect its citizens from vehicular attacks. Again, the emphasis is: if you see something strange, talk to a police officer about it.

No one is talking about how to prevent men (and most of these perpetrators are men) from deciding that violence against innocent strangers is the solution to their problems. Few are discussing whether an act of violence shows strength and toughness, or weakness and impotence.

In my opinion "strong men" (and women) don’t need to bully, abuse, or murder others to prove their strength or to make themselves feel big and powerful. "Strong men" don’t need guns to boost their "manhood."!

After the Manchester attack I wrote the following essay. It was unable to be used at that time. BUT the issue I raised then is still pertinent; something that people should think about.

It is time that everyone stop and THINK about their own words and actions and the words and actions of our political leaders and what each one of us needs to do to bring an end to the bullying (verbal and physical), the abuse, the hate speech, hate crimes and this belief that violence is the way to solve our problems or the way to prove how strong we are.

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Terrorist attacks continue in Europe:

The remainder of this essay was written shortly after the event in Manchester, UK on 2017-MAY-11. A bomb was detonated at the end of a concert, as people exited the arena. Twenty-two people were killed including an eight-year-old girl and an off-duty female police officer. 

President Trump quickly labeled the suicide bomber/s as an "Evil Loser/s".

Talk on the news was all about increasing security and surveillance as the "best ways to stop attacks". And reminding citizens, "if you see something, say something."

No one, in the U.S. so far as I have heard -- especially not the President, or his advisors, or the Republicans, and maybe not even the Democrats or most citizens -- are stopping to ask the most important question ... or more accurately questions: What turns someone into a "Loser"? Are they born that way? What enables someone to become a "Winner"? Is it good luck, good genes, belonging to the "right" Religion, a good education, opportunity, circumstances of birth, nature or nurture or social circumstance?

That third word -- social circumstance may surprise people. The arguments have usually formed between the dualistic concept of nature (determined by your genetics) and nurture (determined by how you are raised). That is the common problem with dualistic thinking. There is a third option in this case: and that is societal circumstances. In other words what role does a person’s social situation play in determining the person they will become?

Many Christians will insist the problem is with Islam. In their minds if people would only become Christians all such problems would go away. Such attitudes ignore the part Christianity has played in creating the religious strife -- the us, the good guys, versus them, the bad guys, mentality) that extremists take advantage of and that turns people away from Christianity to seek meaning and purpose elsewhere.

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Much of the talk in the U.S. these days are about the budget proposals put forth by the President and the Republican party that will strip funding from social programs, the safety nets that so many families depend on. The party has concentrated recently on unsuccessful attempts to remove and replace Obamacare. That program and others level the playing field and enable young people to escape the circumstances of their birth so they can find meaning and purpose in their work (paid and/or volunteer and/or hobbies).

I wrote an essay about this earlier this year "Finding meaning and purpose in a rapidly changing world." As I think about it, every essay I have written this year is aimed at getting people to look at these issues -- addressing different aspects from different perspectives. All of these in one way or another are touched by or affected by issues around social circumstances:

  • The opportunities for education and the quality of that education,

  • The opportunities for meaningful and gainful employment,

  • The opportunities for constructive recreation,

  • The opportunities to find your own particular niche in society that helps you find meaning and purpose in your life.

Notice I didn’t list the religion to which you belong among these social circumstances.

I wonder if anyone has stopped to consider that by gutting social programs they might just be helping to create more "losers", more people who have no hope, no opportunities. With nothing to "lose." What does society expect folks to do?

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Some related essays and sections on this web site that may interest you:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. & Making Sense of the Violence in Charlottesville," The Atlantic, 2017-SEP-03, at: https://www.theatlantic.com/
  2. "Who are the victims of the Manchester terror attack?," The Telegraph, 2017-MAY-31, at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

How you may have arrived here:

 Home > Religiously-motivated violence > here

 Home > Important essays > Religiously-motivated violence > here

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Author: Contributing editor Susan Humphreys
Latest update: 2017-NOV-06

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