The acts of those who spread violence, fear, and hate in the world make two things very clear. First, they show us that even if in one remote corner of the world there are people ready to act out violence, no part of the world can stay safe. No place is an isolated island anymore. Second, those who stand for peace, universal love, non-violence, cooperation, and human values, wherever we may be in the world, and whatever may be our background in terms of race, language, culture, religion, nationality, etc., we need to come together and make our voice heard.
A small group of people with their negativity and wrong thinking can do so much damage through their destructive actions. Imagine then, the power of positive transformation than can be unleashed when the good and decent people who care come together! Such people are the majority on this planet.
Incidents like the Paris attacks on 13 November are routinely followed by expressions of condemnation and diplomatic sympathy. Few people, however, look beyond, towards the root cause, which is a certain mind-set. Fewer still ask questions about the source of the funding and the arms supply.
A purely military response does little to nip the problem in the bud. It invariably leads to the "regrouping" of the ideology under a different banner as we have seen time and again. As has been pointed out, those who perpetrate inhuman acts with misplaced religious righteousness and pride do not care about compassion, common sense, reason and dialogue. Apart from military action, what is thus needed to combat the scourge of terrorism is a campaign of education.
People who choose the path of terrorism do not realise that existence and truth are so vast that one perspective alone cannot contain it. They do not understand that the world, with all its cultural and human diversity, is like a bouquet of flowers. So many cultural and religious traditions exist on the planet. But they think that they have an exclusive right to heaven, and so find justification to create hell for everyone else.
In today's world, everybody needs multicultural and multi-religious understanding so that they can have a broader vision of life. If these terrorists had been more knowledgeable about other religions, if they had grown up seeing all humans -- even those who seem different because of their appearance, culture and methods of worship -- as part of one human family, they probably would not have fallen prey to indoctrination and hate. If they knew the real purpose of religion, if they had been able to see divinity in others, even in those that they perceive as different from them, they probably would not have become so fanatical as to kill fellow humans so wantonly.
As global humanitarian leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar pointed out recently:
"We have to get rid of prejudices. There are many types of prejudices -- generational, class, gender, religious, cultural, linguistic, and more. Wisdom is to rise above prejudice and see the whole world as one family."
Here is another quote by him that is only too appropriate to any discussion on terrorism:
"There is a need to bring a shift from the idea of "sole ownership of heaven" to an ideology of "many paths to One Goal". Diversity is an essential characteristic of our planet and it is through an education that honours this diversity that children can grow into responsible global citizens."
There are three levels of peace, the first one being in the larger world environment and relates to harmony between nations, peoples, world regions, ethnic groups, etc. The second level of peace concerns harmony in our immediate environment comprising family, friends, neighbourhood and workplace. The third level is more personal and individualistic -- inner peace. We cannot underestimate the importance of this level. Sri Sri sums up the relevance of this level of peace to world peace most beautifully in the following way:
"Inner peace is the key for world peace. You cannot have world peace with individuals who are boiling from the inside, ready to explode. If such people are at the helm of affairs, then not only the person explodes, but the countries and communities also explode.
If people can get access to inner peace, then outer peace becomes a reality. Peace is not just absence of conflict or absence of violence; it is a positive phenomenon inside of us. Unless we inculcate the art of inner peace in human endeavour, we cannot achieve world peace."
This inner state does not necessarily dawn in us by itself. It has to be cultivated. Children today are exposed to a lot of violence in video games and movies. When impressionable minds are exposed to violence in the virtual world, they grow up thinking it is acceptable in the real world.
"It is absolutely necessary now to incorporate peace education in all our curricula, so that no child grows up thinking that he is doing the job of God when engaging in bloodshed and violence. If every nation in the world puts 0.1 per cent of its defence budget in peace education, this world of ours will be a far better place to live in. Peace education will be the greatest safeguard against war and terrorism." -- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
A combination of out-of-the-box thinking involving fresh ideas about how to promote peace such as intentionally designed peace-education curricula and ancient wisdom as expounded by great teachers like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sadhguru and others has the potential to eliminate terrorism in the long run. This is an idea worth spreading and something which we all must consider -- irrespective of our individual backgrounds -- for the sake of peace on planet Earth, our common home.