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How Can We Stop Teenagers Turning Into Terrorists?

20/08/2017 21:05
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London, Paris, Brussels, Manchester, Stockholm, Berlin, Barcelona.

The list of countries where innocent civilians have been targeted and attacked in sick, depraved and horrifying terrorist attacks continues to grow and grow, with innocent men, women and children murdered as they go about their daily lives.

And in the aftermath to every attack, the media and politicians follow the same routine and set of procedures - to mourn the victims, to identify the attackers, and to ask the same question once again; how was this able to happen?

We hear that the attackers were known to authorities and that they have been questioned or tracked before. We also hear from former neighbours, their parents or even school friends, who talk of 'quiet' or 'shy' individuals who were 'quietly spoken' and 'often kept themselves to themselves'.

How do people go from everyday school students to committing a massacre? How do individuals go from saying 'good morning' to the neighbours or sitting in a coffee shop to driving a van into a crowd of innocent people?

One of the most shocking and heartbreaking things about terrorism is that it involves the murder of completely innocent people by fellow human beings. Unlike natural disasters or accidents, over which humans have no control and can only deal with the consequences, terrorist attacks are calculated, planned and plotted, with the sole aim of killing children and striking fear into the hearts of their families.

For the vast majority of us, we simply cannot comprehend or understand why on earth a human being would want to destroy innocent lives and cause so much pain and suffering.

How can people be so cruel? Do they realise how much pain they are causing? How does someone become so radicalised and twisted in their thinking that they transform from an everyday human into an evil murderer?

The perpetrators of terrorist attacks and acts of extreme violence - from Islamist extremists to white supremacists - seem to always be angry, disillusioned and unhappy people. They are infuriated when they see other people are happy and don't know how to handle their emotions or thoughts. As their anger develops, these disturbed individuals think they can find belonging and purpose as part of extremist groups, who offer them false hope of finding the happiness and attaining the fulfillment that every human being craves.

Religion becomes an excuse for committing terrible atrocities, terrorists displace their own insecurities and unhappiness by blaming the most vulnerable in society for the world's problems.

Women, gay people, children and religious minorities have all been targeted and assaulted by angry, insecure and unhappy terrorists searching for someone to blame for their own issues.

Whilst there can never be any excuse for terrorism, it is vital that we try to understand what is behind extremism and how human beings can become terrorists. Because if we can intervene earlier and stamp out the problem at its source, so many lives can be saved.

We need to tackle terrorism and violence by promoting an agenda of kindness, compassion, tolerance and integration to every young person in this world. Too many people are intolerant towards others; they cannot empathise with the views of others, or understand that people are different. They feel angry that they aren't included within mainstream society, and become enraged that others don't share their extreme and ludicrous opinions.

In today's world, we have so many resources available to help us understand human psychology. We can use brain scanning techniques, counselling skills and complete detailed research into people's backgrounds in order to understand what creates a terrorist. Are people born with a desire to kill? Are people born with a predisposition to get involved in extremism? We need to work out what is going on in the brain's of the haters, terrorists and extremists - in what parallel universe do they think their behaviour is ok?

Everyone has a responsibility to stop terrorism from taking place. As Nelson Mandela said, 'People must learn to hate, and if they can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love'. We need to put all of our differences aside and bring about integration, understanding and inclusivity among all people of all backgrounds. Terrorism flourishes when their is division and tension in society; we need to overcome the toxicity of terrorism with an agenda of love, harmony and inclusion.

And that requires that every single one of us works tirelessly to promote a loving, inclusive, compassionate and tolerant world in which every human being feels valued and involved.

There can be no room for intolerance, aggression or hatred. It's time to conquer terrorism with tolerance.

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