How can we face terrorism? I'm sure experts all over the world can answer this question better than me, but since it's on my mind and the mind of everyone in the world, here are a few thoughts.
Build Inclusion, Care, and Respect for One Another Beginning with Children
It seems to me that terrorism, in part, is due to those that feel distanced from the mainstream. As an educator, I wonder how we can support schools with greater care and attention so that all children from all cultures learn to work with confidence in our multicultural diverse world. Too often many of our schools are not supported enough to be the positive, multicultural, nation-building institutions possible. Trump's support of faith-based schools and school choice, schools that they feel don't have to follow federal laws for equity and inclusion is definitely a step towards greater separation rather than greater unity and respect as people.
Look for ways to create greater inclusion and care of all people in our communities. Re-look at governing bodies and try to determine how we can get greater representation by more groups to make good laws and lead communities in ways that matter.
Service Learning/Service Requirements
Include good quality service learning and requirements for all children in school in order to build empathy and the experience of helping one another from an early age. I have to believe that terrorism comes, in part, from a lack of empathy for individuals since terrorism targets innocent people of all ages and cultures.
Re-Think Our Cultural Norms and Interconnections
In an increasingly densely populated and interconnected world, how do we change norms so that we uplift people with meaningful work, essential services, and opportunity to lead. What do communities of peace look like? How do people in those communities get along and support one another? What models of peaceful communities exist in our world and how do those communities work?
Share and Analyze All Data Related to Terrorism
I'm sure that people and nations who have been impacted by terrorism are studying terrorism with depth. It's important that people analyze data and share conclusions to look for as many ways to peacefully end terrorism as possible.
Opportunities for Exciting, Meaningful Learning
Perhaps by providing most citizens an opportunity for exciting, meaningful learning early on will provide those people with the ability to look away from the destruction and pain of terrorism to the opportunity and possibility of good, productive work and service.
Is there a correlation between terrorism and lack of basic needs? What do we define basic needs as, and if there's a correlation, how do we change that?
Destruction Leads to Greater Destruction
All people and nations need to look for peaceful solutions to problems rather than destructive solutions--greater peace will lead to greater peace.
Don't Waste News Time on "Easy" Issues
Instead move news and media ahead to become educational outlets, the kinds of media that moves away from sensational sound bites to presentations of issues with their multiple layers of facts, analyses and possible paths of resolve. Good media will look for ways to elevate information share so that people learn the facts and also see the problems from a deeper level, the kind of level that leads to good solutions.
Give Terrorists Something to Live For
Could it be that the men and women who sign on to terrorist acts and groups feel they have nothing to live for and therefore find extremist values a path to meaning, belonging, and excitement? If this is so, how can we give these people something to live for from an early age. Do they live in neighborhoods with wonderful, peaceful parks? Do they have communities of peaceful, meaningful activity? Have they climbed a mountain, swam in an ocean or lake, held a baby, invented something, read a wonderful book, played an instrument, engaged in invigorating sports games, heard the stories of true change-makers. . . .what meaning do these people gain early in life, the kind of meaning that maintains our devotion to good living, caring for others, and peaceful communities? Do they get the medical care they need?
Working with Mothers and Religious Leaders
In the face of terrorism, I wonder a lot about the mothers of terrorists--what do they think about this? How do they think this problem can be solved? Why do their children reach for meaning in terrorist groups and acts? These mothers may hold the key, in part, to the solution. I wonder if equity, education, and gender roles are part of this problem? If analysis shows that terrorism mainly develops from religion, it's important to look closely at those religious sects and speak to the leaders of those sects with regard to their religious beliefs, leadership, and ideas for peaceful change.
Personal Sacrifice and Commitment
What if these terrorists actually had the opportunity to see personal sacrifice and generosity in their young lives? What if their schools looked like the best private schools? What if political leaders were always speaking out against prejudice and making a point of interacting with people from multiple cultures? What if they were talking to the diversity of people and asking them to identify ways to solve the world problems, and then what if they were sharing their wealth with the world's people as one way to solve those problems. Each of us can use personal sacrifice as a way to evidence our commitment to betterment. This can be an act that works toward solution in the face of terrorism.
It's imperative that people speak up when they see problems, and then work with others to try to solve those problems.
As I teach, I sometimes see children who are lost and angry--these children may be children who feel unloved or disrespected. These children may represent qualities that the world looks down on--physical, intellectual, cultural, or other qualities. These children may come from families who struggle with poverty, physical/mental illness, or family problems. Before we look at reading, writing, and math scores, should we look at happiness scores, and find ways to meet the basic needs of children who struggle, demonstrate anger, and have little sense of belonging or meaning?
Terrorism is like a body sore--it's ugly to look at, painful, and repulsive. If not treated, it will spread. It's important for the people of the world to come together and work on this problem in communities small and large using as much smart, researched, loving, peaceful process as possible.
What will you do?
I will start by having a talk with my classes on Monday about belonging and purpose. I'll say that it's been a great year of learning and teaching. I'll add that all children have made terrific progress and accomplished a lot, but also no year of teaching is all things and that there's good learning to come. Then I'll say, "What can I do for you to make the final days of school happy, meaningful, and caring days of school?" I'll listen to their answers and do what I can to end the year with success, happiness, and care for each child. Hopefully this will provide one meaningful, peaceful path for these children to experience as they think of their futures and begin to form their life paths.
If everyone looks for ways to respond with care and purpose, we will progress on this terrorist sore that exists in our world.