Whenever there is a new wave of terrorist attacks I brace myself for what’s coming. Not in the first place because ISIS scares me, or because I fear for my own life or the ones I love. There is something far scarier: more distrust and separation in society. People fail to realise that this is the ultimate goal of terrorism: to create irrational fears and phobias. Terrorism on its own is a fairly powerless tactic, but it is our reaction that makes it powerful.
If you are on social media you cannot look past the many articles and posts about the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. The “Islamic” State (IS) has repeatedly threatened to cast terror and to fill our streets with blood, and sadly they have succeeded. Whoever is behind these kinds of terrorist attacks knows what they are doing. They want our society to become more polarised. This is part of an ancient war tactic: divide and conquer.
— Warda El-Kaddouri (@Warda_E) November 14, 2015
The best way to divide people is through fear. It releases certain hormones in your brain that prepare you to fight or run, depending on the situation. These hormones have an unfortunate side effect: they cloud your judgment and prevent rational thinking. Cockfighting is based on this principle: when you push two animals together they become angry and fight to the death. But we are smarter than animals, or at least we should be. We have to see through this strategy and close our ranks.
Do not allow your hearts to be filled with hate & fear. If you post something hateful you become the problem not the solution. #ParisAttacks
— Darren A. Furniss (@DarrenAFurniss) November 14, 2015
ISIS conquered northern Iraq last year even though they were outnumbered 15 to 1. This was only possible because the Iraqi soldiers were afraid of ISIS. When fear catches you by surprise you are likely to choose the second option: you run. The Nazi’s used a similar tactic during WWII. Some people were so confused that they did not know what to choose: should they fight or run? Because they chose nothing they became paralyzed with fear, making them a very easy prey.
The only way to combat irrational fear is direct contact. There is a Dutch proverb that says: “unknown is unloved”. When people come together they learn to love what is strange to them. You cannot rely on media to inform you on everything: some things you have to discover on your own. I encourage everyone to leave their computers and smartphones and to connect with people on a personal level. This is truly the only effective way to disarm terrorists.