Ignorance, Lack Of Empathy And Prejudice Leads To Terrorism

By | August 22, 2017

Terrorism never starts suddenly in a vacuum or out of the blue.  No, it starts by ignorance, lack of empathy, and prejudice that grows into intolerance for those different from you.

They could have a different color of skin, a different nationality,  a different religion, different sexual orientation or a different ethnicity.

Prejudice mixed with scapegoating is  toxic and can lead to an explosive momentum that can spread like wildfire.   It can infiltrate society and cause divisions that become the substance of  domestic terrorism as well as international terrorism.

Total lack of empathy is intolerance in extremis.  When lack of empathy is magnified it becomes terrorism in your heart.

Triggered by angry convictions,  this intolerance can go on to violent verbal assaults, physical  aggression and harm.

Those of you who have developed a sense of prejudice towards other human beings different from you  have never  known or really listened to those different “others” nor their fears, hurts and burdens.

It can start subtlety with negative thoughts towards others, who have never been directly involved in any difficulties in your own life.  Prejudice comes out  of ignorance and fear.

Prejudices are propagated and nurtured by others who have the same ignorance.  Those who are vulnerable to being influenced, can be easily indoctrinated by the prejudice of others.

Sadly this often starts in families that can be passed down through generations.  What children hear proclaimed by their parents and grandparents is generally assumed into their own thinking.

Throughout history, human beings seem to have a need of a scapegoat.  A scapegoat is someone or a group of people who you feel are to blame for a difficulty or hardship, even though  that have no real direct involvement in your “problems”.

Human beings find it much easier to blame someone else rather than  see themselves as being a part of the obstacles in their life.

Although that might be human nature, mounting a case of unwarranted prejudice  and blowing it out of proportion can easily lead to violence of thought, word and deed.

When violence of thought proceeds to acts , then you have plain and simple acts of terrorism.  So terrorism starts with  prejudiced thinking and that later explodes over towards scapegoating with  intent to maim and destroy.

First there are the thoughts, then there are verbal  or written attacks and then there is acting upon those prejudices with violent behavior.

Prejudicial thoughts are like a rock rolling down a hill gathering toxic moss to the degree that by the time the rocks arrive at the bottom of the hill, they become bombs of hatred just waiting to explode.

Empathy is simply being able to imagine the plight of someone else.  To imagine what it would feel like to YOU  being in their situation.

When you are unable to conjure up the feelings of another person’s situation and or unable to sense their discomfort or pain, then you are insensitive.

You are only aware of your own needs, wants and feelings, but not anyone else!  That is a major indication of a narcissist or sociopath.

Lacking empathy is more common than you think.     It  begins when you are unable to put yourself into someone else’s shoes.

Without empathy, there can not be any compassion. Without compassion the heart grows cold and dark where evil creeps in to take over.

Recent resurgence of violent racist demonstrations in my own country have frightened me.  The fact that they  were not immediately and sincerely denounced is a more grave concern.

Without guilt, cruel heinous acts are carried out maiming and destroying others.   The seeds of the holocaust were planted long before Hitler rose to power.

Legislation was enacted to exclude Jews from certain positions, occupations, and designate where they could live in several European countries.  Russian pogroms were also in place long before.

Jewish ghettos were in set up in numerous big cities in Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Germany and Hungary.

Once a leader normalizes  prejudicial ideology and terrorism, then  waves of like-minded others will easily follow suit.  The fuel of prejudice and scapegoating can spread like wildfire and give way to war, as it did in Germany.

During the Nazi occupation of France, the Vichy regime was likewise complacent with the Nazi and helped deport Jews to the concentration camps.

Fortunately, Germany today is extremely vigilant towards any hints, signs or displays of Nazi ideology.  Laws are firmly in place against all such activities and perpetrators are arrested and punished.

Germany also recently passed laws to steeply fine social medias for not removing  hate speech, defamation and incitements to violence within 24 hours, which I find very commendable.

Saint Bernard de Clairvaux who died in 1153 and is considered a Doctor of the Catholic Church proclaimed: “For us the Jews are Scripture’s living words, because they remind us of what Our Lord suffered. They are not to be persecuted, killed, or even put to flight.”

For me, our Jewish brothers and sisters are the true vines and family from which Rabbi Jesus grew up.  All Christians should honor and protect them from all persecutions and harm.

Fighting prejudice starts within our own hearts and is up to each one of us to stand up to the bigots of the world wherever we are.

We are all called to carry and lighten the burdens of those persecuted for being “different”.  Difference in the sacredness of human beings is an illusion, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality or culture.

I will leave you with one of the most sobering and fitting words written by a German Lutheran protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, who became an outspoken opponent of the Nazi regime.  He was imprisoned for 7 years in a concentration camp for his views.

“First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out-                                                                          Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

8 thoughts on “Ignorance, Lack Of Empathy And Prejudice Leads To Terrorism

  1. rebecca

    When I was young, I thought it would be so amazing to meet people from different countries and those different than myself. How wonderful it is to meet others that speak another language, and to share what they eat, how they dress and how things are done in their communities . We were taught, to never judge others and we were not better than anyone else and no one was better than us. even tho my own family had problems , it was my parents that taught me that. I had a sister and two brothers that were like the people you are talking about cherry. I just didn’t think about other people being bad, just because they did not see eye to eye with me. I did not like being attacked, tho, just because I was different..and again that started with my own brothers and my sister..which you already know the history about them so to keep from repeating those bones that should be left in the closet. I do agree with you 100 percent.sadly I think it is going to get worse. I wonder when people will stop repeating history ..guess others do not want to change for the good. It seems a lot here are really wanting to stir the pot..I tell you right now i do not want any part of it, again a good article. I hope you and your lovely daughter are doing well..i this year has been very hard for you and I still keep you in my prayers. love,hugs..becky

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Becky for your comment and sharing your own concerns around this frightening and escalating situation. I know that you have always been very open and kind to those who may differ from you. The world needs more of kindred spirits like you!
      Thank you for your prayers Becky, which are very much appreciated. Love and Hugs

  2. David Stone

    Hi Cherry,

    I think that you described the root cause of terrorism fairly well. Personally, I think that the media, both extreme liberal and and extreme conservative, are substantially contributing to the problems. The neo-Nazis and White Supremacist and other radical groups are rather insignificant minor parts of the U.S. population. The media seems to disproportionately magnify the alt-right extremists groups which perhaps contributes to their recruitment of new members. At the same time the alt-left is, and for numerous years, have been attempting to somewhat “rewrite history” in order to push their political and social agendas.

    As much as I have come to dislike President Trump, I think that he was correct in his claims that there were people on both the alt-right AND the alt-left who were responsible for what occurred in Charlotte, NC. It was reportedly the alt-left who attacked and started the conflict. Trump just screwed up by not specifically condemning the intolerable programs and policies of the alt-right extremists groups; but he was correct in saying that there was fault on both sides for the violence. I think that people should basically IGNORE the alt-right and not give them any publicity. And anyone in the alt-right or alt-left break laws or commit violence should be arrested and prosecuted. There are ALWAYS going to be radical groups on the alt-right and alt-left. I don’t think that the media should give publicity to either group that, in essence, promotes their radical causes.

    I find a similarity between ISIS destroying antiquities and those who take it upon themselves to desecrate statues from the Civil War era and who are attempting to rewrite history to suit their social and political agenda. Trump was right about pointing out that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both substantial owners of slaves . . . . so, should all statues and monuments of them be removed from public areas? These historical figures should be taken in the context of the times and conditions under which they lived. The Civil War was about “states rights; and slavery was just one of the political (sic. economic) issues. The average Southerner did not own slaves. It was primarily The more wealthy and politically powerful Southerners who implemented the Civil War to withdraw from the Union . . . and the rest of the Southerns just went along with it as people tend to do.

    When I was in college, working on the pipe line in the summers, I was invited to join the KKK by one of the old crew members . . . it was at the time of the march on Washington (1964). The guy told me that “he wasn’t a member himself (the FBI was going after KLAN members at the time); but he said that he have some Klan members contact me . . . Ha! This guy was sort of what I would consider these types of people to be; not very educated, extremely prejudiced and bigoted about most things; and he had stated that “he would never pay for his children to go to college because then they would think that they are better than him”. It is difficult to deal with ignorant people; they operate and function on ingrained emotions and are rather incapable of rational objective thought most of the time.

    After a half century of “integration” and all of the government programs and “subsidies” a tremendous majority of Blacks seem to have not taken advantage of the opportunities that have been available to them; there are many of them who have taken advantage of the programs and who have become successful individuals also. Individuals have a choice as to how they live their lives. Far too many people, both black and white, are too lazy or “ignorant” to put. These are the people who are easily recruited to the ultra-right and ultra left groups.

    The U.S. has always been a country built on diversity and immigration; but I think that we cannot afford to allow immigration of cultures that are incompatible with “American principles” . . . people who practice “honor killings”, “death to infidels”, etc. cannot be tolerated in our society. They are as bad as the Neo-Nazis, the White Supremacist , the Black panthers, etc. Radical violence prone groups are simply unacceptable. It is difficult enough to supress the “homegrown groups”; we certainly don’t need to import them . . . that is just “planting the seeds for future social and political problems”.

    “Education” is the ONLY long term solution; and attempting to substitute religious dogma and standards are not a replacement or substitute for education. And even “education” is impacted by the politics and cultures of societies. To me, the world appears to have been “going backwards’ and regressing somewhat over the last couple of decades as political stability and chaos have increased throughout the world. Ignorant people are easy and ready candidates for radical extremist groups, both on the right and the left. That just evolves into more violent conflicts. “Radical religions” are the easiest way to control the masses of uneducated people.. Having too much extreme “diversities” appears to just create conflicts and chaos., resulting in sometimes violent conflicts.

    There are no easy solutions.. But for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we have a moral obligation to speak out against that which we believe is unjust and/or imprudent for the best interests of society as a whole. This morning on NPR – National Public Radio, the old time civil rights activists and politician Andrew Young stated that he was personally against the movement to remove the statues of the Confederate individuals or to “remove the Stone Mountain carvings in Atlanta” He said that he thought this movement was undermining the REAL issues.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you David for your well detailed comment dealing with several collateral issues not dealt with in my post. Though my focus was in describing the precursors that lead to terrorism, I am aware that many in the states, especially from the South have varying opinions in regard to what you discussed.
      If I were to reply to each subject brought out, I would end up writing a response longer than my post! So please excuse my exclusions and my brevity.
      On the subject of statue removals, I will state that although they commemorate an historical period of the South, they are a stark oppressive and repugnant reminder to many African Americans. Jackson and Lee fought to preserve southern society and states rights of which slavery was the predominant intrinsic right, whereas Washington and Jefferson fought to create the union of the United States. Jefferson ended slave importation in 1808 and created proposals for emancipation.
      As a therapist I perhaps am more aware, therefore more empathic of how slavery caused immense suffering that left many scars and destructive consequences in African American family dynamics and society.
      I was born and reared in the South, and frankly resented the historical Confederacy being propagated “to rise again” with its immoral constituents.
      I do have what Jung would describe as “collective guilt” and a sense of shame for the sins of slavery committed on the soil where I was born.
      I would prefer to see them removed to a museum or historical endoit, as Germans and Russian have done. Hugs

      1. David Stone

        Well, I personally feel that the barrage of media hype about the issues and incidents is somewhat being convoluted to promote social and political agendas . . . and the barrage of hype becomes annoying to me. Moving the statues to museums is a viable option or “solution”; but desecrating the historical statues and contributing to causing violent conflicts is repugnant and unacceptable to me.

        I have no sense of that “collective guilt” that you refer to. With my partial American Indian heritage some of my ancestors were treated as badly or worse than the slaves were treated (I may have distant Indian relatives who could still be living on Indian reservations in deplorable conditions). I don’t know of ANY of my ancestors who were slave owners. Slavery was a deplorable practice; but it has happened throughout the history of mankind. And as repugnant as slavery was, I simply do not feel any type of connection to it personally. The past is historical facts that people should learn from; people have to deal with the realities of current life during our life time.

        Like you, I’ve always thought that the ideas about the “old South” were a little irrational and convoluted . The majority of those old southerners did not own slaves; but were merely caught up in living in those times. Heck, even the majority of the churches of the time went along with somewhat Biblicaly justifying slavery. It was just the way that things had always been . . . historically nations enslaved other nations. And by their perspectives and standards it was all “rational and justifiable to the people of those times”. I can only judge things relative to what I have done and supported in my personal life . . . I do not feel any type of “guilt” for the sins of others. Society should attempt to provide “equal education and and opportunities” for EVERYONE; but it is up to the individuals to take advantages of those opportunities. There are just too many people who seem to want something for nothing. At least that is the way that I view it.

        I honestly don’t see much difference between Washington and Jefferson versus Lee and Jefferson . George Washington and Thomas Jefferson fought the British (who considered Washington and Jefferson to be traitors and rebels). They both own slaves. General Lee reportedly did not support slavery; but felt an obligation to as a Southerner to help his states with the states rights issues. Lee and other Southerners left West Point Military Academy to “serve their home states” in regard to “states rights” (the right to own slaves became the biggest economic issue of states rights). Nothing is totally clear cut; but the fact that Washington and Jefferson’s wealth was rooted in having a lot of slaves speaks for itself. And Jefferson sired children with one or more slaves . . . it was just the way that things were in those days. Did Jefferson’s work towards ending slavery OFFSET the part that owning and using slaves to gain his wealth in his earlier years? I forget the Congressman’s name; but he was one of the most racists Congressmen; but he had sired a child by one of his parent’s servants.

        Life is NEVER going to be “fair and equal”; that is just a reality. Now, purportedly the 1%’ers own 65% of our national wealth; and the upper 20% own 85% of the wealth of the USA; and the situation is projected to only worsen in the future. Robotics and automation with AI – Artificial Intelligence, outsourcing industries to foreign countries is undermining the opportunities for large segments of our population whose economic conditions will become worse with time. Meanwhile some people strive to have violent conflicts over historical issues and perceptions; and yet do nothing to address the real problems for the future. It is all rather dumbfounding to me. Where is the “fairness and q” in the projected economic demise? The driving forces behind it all are politics and social agendas. I think that people need to focus on the future, rather than lament about the past historical times before their lives. Too much of these issues seem to be fabrications for promoting political and social agendas that do not contribute to the American standards of living in any meaningful way.

  3. Shawn McBride

    Trump’s “base” is steadfast in its support of his madness. The more outrageous his assertions and braggadocio, the better they like it. They are so fed up with the perceived failures of Washington that they see him as a sort of savior. I know it is now a cliche, but the scene here is quite reminiscent of Germany in 1939—when common, working-class Germans saw little return on their labors and were ready to follow an evil man who promised them a better life. Many Americans were evicted from the workforce during the great recession of 2008—a result of the greed and lying viciousness of Wall Street. Most of those never got back into the ranks of the employed because their jobs were already growing obsolete. Now they blame the Democrats and the moderate Republicans for giving their jobs to immigrants, minorities and foreign countries. Labor unions have become largely irrelevant, and there has been no one—until Trump—to channel these people’s discontent. Unfortunately, instead of channeling it into a productive path (e.g., programs to retrain people for today’s jobs), he has channeled it into a scapegoat mode, where they feel justified in blaming everyone who is not white, everyone who was not born in the U.S., everyone whose education is more than high school, etc., etc.

    It’s true that the quality of life in this country lacks the comfort, security and promise of improvement that our generation enjoyed. But it’s definitely not the likes of Donald J. Trump who will restore the American dream. Rather, it is up to each of us to re-define that dream in a way that’s appropriate and relevant to today’s technological and global socio-economical environment. It will, admittedly, be a long and rough passage. But it’s something we all must tackle. Mourning what is no more and blaming others for the loss will never solve anything. White privilege is a thing of the past; and, thank God, skinheads can’t bring it back.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you so much Shawn for your very clear and insightful outline of events that has led to the current situation at hand in the US, that does indeed bear resemblance to pre Nazi Germany that I felt was happening.
      Your excellent observation of the causes of the discontent permeated amongst the majority of DT supporters is right on the mark. The strong undercurrent and ever present racial prejudices are still very much in play and with the president normalizing these and continuous scapegoating will only lead to increase racial violence.
      Having mental instability, verbal bullying, poor historical knowledge, blatant narcissism and poor impulse control, etc that is being displayed in the oval office is especially frightening in light of the serious and very fragile North Korean explosive cliffhanger. Intelligent and psychological diplomacy is called for in dealing with Kim Jong-un, rather that verbal threats and challenges, that can easily escalate the need for this sadistic missile obsessed leader to get into a nuclear cock fight with Trump. Hugs

      1. David Stone

        I really don’t thin the majority of the people who voted for Trump ever anticipated him to turn out the way that he has shown himself to be. I think that the vast majority of those who voted for him were voting against the establishment and our rather dysfunctional Congress. I may not be a psychologist but Trump seems to fit the clinical definitions for being a sociopath and a pathological liar, which encompasses his lack of credibility, lack of conscience and moral compass, lack of integrity and erratic behaviors. I’ve read that one out of ten persons are a sociopath to some degree; and Trump appears to be an extreme sociopath. I do think that there was some merit to SOME of his stated objectives; but he lacks the wherewithal to politically and rationally implement those objectives in the real world; and a lot of his objectives are just too radical to be acceptable to any reasonable person. I seriously doubt that Trump could be elected (or even nominated) again if the political parties gave the voters better potential candidates. I think that Trump’s election was mere a reflection of the American people’s discontent with the way things were with the DNC, the RNC and Congress.

        There are ALWAYS going to be extremist radicals on BOTH the right and the left socially and politically. It seems that the media, in their quests for “news”, is, in essence, exaggerating and promoting the radical extremists. Violent conflicts between the ultra-right and the ultra-left should not be “magnified” ; and lawbreakers in general should be arrested and prosecuted. The ultra-right needs publicity to help them broaden their memberships. I think that they mainly need to be contained and ridiculed for their collective “ignorance” . The media hype merely broadens their appeal to those of their ilk.

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