"...the next time you turn on the news and see that terrorists have blown up 10 children with a car bomb, that's the first step: Realize that the scoreboard lies. It will tell you that winning the game means dropping bombs that you know full well will splatter ten times as many children as collateral damage. The score -- the real score -- would then be: Violence Against Children 110, Humanity 0......
....When a bunch of terrorists blow up a school or shoot up an office full of cartoonists, do you think it's because they don't know we have guns and bombs and drones? You think they do what they do because they believe we're "too weak to strike back" and that we thus need to "show them how strong we are?"
Holy shit, dude, these people can read the damned news. They know exactly what we're going to do: We're going to overreact. We do it every time. That's why they do it. So stop, step back, and understand something that most of America doesn't:
They do what they do, because they know we're too weak to resist striking back.
Our knee-jerk, bomb-dropping reflex is our weakness. They are trying to exploit it, because retaliation bombings are how they recruit more terrorists to their side. And please note that when I talk about their "side," I'm not talking about Islam, or even Islamic terrorism. Their "side" is what I'm going to henceforth call Team Violence...The bully doesn't fight because he wants to win; he fights because he wants a world in which everything is resolved by fighting (note: The bully himself doesn't realize this). It doesn't matter if he loses -- the moment you chose to fight, his side already won, and the world becomes more like the world he wants to live in.
...in the wake of an attack, you constantly hear about how this is a clash of civilizations, a culture war between the primitive, savage religious fundamentalists and the more secular, Western societies. But the moment you buy into that idea, you've already joined their side. It's the side of tribalism -- the primitive instinct that says your "group" has to win at all costs, and I honestly don't care how you define your group (race, religion, country, way of life) because ultimately I think there are the only two sides:
A. Those who think their tribe has to dominate Earth;
B. Those who think tribes can coexist....
Soon after the attack, commentators will appear on every screen in your home explaining in snide, sarcastic tones how the courageous choice is to hate Muslims -- like they're the lone, brave voice in a world afraid to hold such a controversial opinion.
The reality -- which you've known since you were too young to shit outside your pants -- is that your most automatic, unthinking reflex is always to hit back, and that growing up means resisting it....
..."Kill 'em all!" is the easy, lazy reaction. That's the animal reflex, the old tribal instincts lurching to the surface from that primal, caveman part of your brain...
It's the thinking part -- the human part -- that says to stop, resist the initial urge, and actually think about what action will make the world better. It's like resisting the urge to scratch an itch, and actually stopping to say, "Maybe instead of scratching the rash until it bleeds, I should go see a doctor....
...taking the high road isn't satisfying. Revenge is satisfying. Schadenfreude is satisfying. Taking the high road is like sitting perfectly still while a fly buzzes around your ear, forever... . Out here, the bad guys see your empathy as a sign of weakness, and take advantage of it while taunting you. The homeless guy may take your donated blanket and wipe his ass with it. The friend you loaned money to might use it to get a naked mural airbrushed on his van. But you still have to take the high road.
Why? Because in reality, the only "culture war" is between the people who take the high road and the people who don't......
....for every one cold, calculating mastermind, you have a dozen or a hundred mere knucklehead. That's the cop term ...for somebody who isn't a bad guy, but who just has poor impulse control, or is mentally unbalanced, or an addict, or just in general can't get his life together. They're lost, weak-willed people who fell in with the wrong crowd....
The problem is that, again, it's far more satisfying to imagine that everyone who wrongs you did it as an act of intentional evil or sociopathic selfishness. See, because if they're just sad screwups who spend most of their time victimizing themselves, well, then that would make it harder to fantasize about killing them. If their bad impulses, addictions, and irrational fears/hatreds hurt them even more than they hurt other people, then that means those impulses are the enemy. And what fun is that? Bad impulses can't be killed by any form of gun, missile, or kung fu known to man...
....Here's the final lie you'll hear, and it's one that I've railed against again and again and again. It's the assertion that violence always wins, because there is no match for it.
This right here, this idea that ultimately violence is the only thing that works, is probably the most widely believed yet easily disproven lie in all of human history. The truth -- backed up by cold, hard facts, is that violence has been on an astonishing decline for thousands of years. Go back to the Middle Ages, and you find a murder rate 30 times higher than it is today.
In other words, Team Violence is losing. The only way they can win is if they can convince us that their way is the only way.
... escalating the violence is an act of weakness and fear. It's a crisis of faith -- the belief that your way of doing things is fragile -- a house of cards will tumble at the slightest tremor. That peaceful civilization just doesn't work.
Have faith in civilization. History says that they can't beat us -- we can only beat ourselves. Violence isn't on the rise; it's just in the news more often, because there's a lot of money to be made by pushing your Team Violence buttons."
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