How can we respond to extremism? What is the underlying issue and what responses are needed to make any worthwhile and effective difference?
1. Why does an individual become radicalised?
Because they feel they don’t belong. They feel isolated, un-appreciated, misunderstood.
And it’s not just potential terrorists that feel this way. Listen to the mood of the general public, as reflected in recent votes, and this feeling is widespread: an indicator of the general state of unrest, dis-satisfaction and a real and strong sense that all is not well with society.
The few individuals who become radical extremists are but the tip of the iceberg. Humanity is in crisis. We have had enough of the status-quo. We feel that the way things have been in recent decades (in attitudes, how things are run, in approaches, in strategies and priorities, etc.) are all taking us, humanity, in the wrong direction.
Underlying all of these thought and feelings is a simple human need that many feel is not being satisfied:
“Nobody cares about us. Nobody cares how we FEEL. Nobody is listening.”
This is reflected in so much about the politics and business-world of our time. For example:
Politicians, individually and collectively, who slag each other off, trying to score political points whilst failing to see, far less address, the growing frustration with such behaviour.
2. What can be done?
We need those in positions of authority to listen. Really listen. Actively listen.
We need those on different sides of the political spectrum, of the business community and of society to commit to working together, to seeking consensus, to co-operating for the sake of our whole society.
Left-wing, right-wing clashes need to be consigned to the history books. What wing is the great British Blackbird? What wing is the magnificent eagle? Birds need their two wings working in harmony: so does British politics!
That’s it. The solution, in theory at least, is simple: stop arguing, stop mud-slinking, stop avoiding the deeper issues and question.
Instead, really listen to each other and to those who are unhappy, frustrated, if not furious. Care about their feelings and issues. And show you care.
Despite all the rhetoric and clever words (used by politicians and business leaders alike) the general feeling is that the needs, feelings and deeper concerns of ordinary people are being ignored.
Because of this, what starts as a minor frustration, instead of being resolved with compassion, understanding and a win-win approach, becomes deep, seething resentment. There is a lot of it around. It can only be addressed by appreciated the deeper sense of disconnect, of isolation, of not-belonging.
This approach is already taking root in activities celebrating Jo Cox, in More-In-Common (Hope not Hate) and similar grass-roots movements across the country. These, and the heart-felt responses to recent atrocities and tragedies represent and reflect the true nature of the vast majority of British public. What we need is for administrations, government bodies, companies and other organisations to follow their example.
The country needs its leaders to put heart and soul into their leadership; to practice sincerity and genuine co-operation. The way forward is as simple as that.
It is true that the practice may not be easy, because shifting to this way of thinking d behaving may mean changing the habits of a lifetime. But that’s no excuse not to make the effort. With commitment and perseverance, behaviour and attitudes can be changed. Nationally and locally, in many forms, a movement exists that would welcome the opportunity to help our leaders undertake this growth process.
We call for an emphasis on growth in awareness, in compassion and understanding and a willingness to look at and deal with our own limiting beliefs and dubious attitudes. This is the sort of growth that our country needs now, more than ever before.