Terrorists are often motivated by feelings of unfelt or suppressed grief, shame, hopelessness, despair or rage. They have no forum in which they can speak or be heard, they have no voice and they have no mouth. It is like they are trying to scream without a mouth, without a voice and the only expression for their feelings that they can give is in the form of futile and bitter acts of violence. They are the symptom of the famine of human community and the lack of forums for processing of sociopolitical tensions, the ghosts of history, power imbalances, trauma and rage that exists in our culture.
If we want less terrorism one thing that would help would be to create a culture in which people of different religions and secular people can come together in facilitated open forums and town meetings and share their anger, their aggression, their rage, their grief, their frustration, to speak about their humiliation, abuse, despair, hopelessness and oppression and to be met and heard in these things. Most people agree that violence and killing is unethical in most cases, but what is the root cause of violence? In a sense terrorism arises as a response to a lack of human community; right now in our culture we are experiencing a kind of famine of human community.
We need to help the terrorist articulate their rage as a demand for justice and respect, rather than self destructive brutality and violence. What is at the root or at the bottom of a raging person’s aggression? Usually it is a demand for justice or respect of some kind. Mainstream people just want to be safe and this is an understandable need. We may need to help the mainstream and conservative people to understand that the safety they crave will be found when they learn to to listen the voices of ‘out of order’ and angry, aggressive or grief-filled people. We need forums in which both oppressor and oppressed can communicated with each other and listen to each other’s grief. We need to create council in which the ghosts of painful history, the ghosts of imperialism, grief and the voices of the unquiet dead can be held, heard and listened too
Violence occurs to wake us up, to force us to acknowledge that we are complicit in each other’s painful history, to force us to realize that we have a common grief and agony created by the nightmare of history and by our lack of conscious world community. Human community is not a utopian dream, it is something which is already alive within the deepest hearts of men and women.
We don’t reach it by chasing after some impossible ideal, but rather, after we have exhausted all other possibilities, we reach human community when we are compelled by grief, despair or love to reach the deepest core of our being. The seemingly senseless violence that emerges in our culture is at the deepest level a substitute for dialogue, for intimacy, for two groups of people being able to communicate and express their feelings, their pain, rage and grief, to each other.