A terrible couple of days in Paris. Condolences from around the world were paid to the families of those killed. The people of France and most other countries are aghast. Everyone agrees something has to be done to stop this from happening again.
Some terrorists are extremely pious or nationalistic or outraged by the historic treatment of their people. The terrorists who murdered the people in Paris appear not too have been. If they were it was a recently acquired sense of injustice.
Were they young persons who were misfits, mentally ill, or mistreated by society in an extreme manner? No, they seemed to be from a relatively common background from the media coverage to date. Then why?
Did they see the attacks as an opportunity, even in death, to become important or famous or to be grammatically correct, infamous? Did they want to become known as the ones who took on an “irreverent” group of journalists, cartoonists who, in addition to all the other ways they felt put down by French society, had diminished the single aspect of their identity for which they believed people respected them, even if it was out of fear? To be honest, I don’t think they will achieve the notoriety of other terrorists. The attack did not seem to be part of a grand plan. People won’t remember their names in a few weeks. Then why?
Would they have done this terrible thing if they had been provided the middle class life with a good job, home and family? Most societies have large populations of people who do not achieve the middle class life, but they don’t resort to terrorism. Also, some well educated people with every opportunity available to them have committed acts of terrorism. Then why?
Were they tricked into these violent acts by a religious Svengali who convinced them that the action was justified and some enormous good would come out of their actions? They did not appear to have spent a lot of time in religious study. Many of the people who attended the religious institutions available to them did not seem to know them very well. Out of country visits seem to have been minimal, a couple of months in a foreign country, hardly enough to change a person’s beliefs and nature. Then why?
Did the people they killed deserve what they got? Had they specifically committed such outrageous acts against the terrorists or their community that they got what was coming to them? The journalists and cartoonists were accused of being disrespectful to the religion of the killers. But they were at least equally disrespectful to every major religion, political leaders, police, military and other societies. They were criticized for it, sued for it and told a thousand times that their cartoons had “crossed the line”. No one else had decided to kill them for their words or pictures. Then why?
If you could figure out why, then you could take actions to change and then terrorism would end. We are fascinated with figuring out “the why”. The how is pretty straight forward. Innocent people and even guilty people get killed by guns, knives, bombs and other weapons. Defend every person and every asset against weapons and you will protect them from harm. A costly strategy no doubt. But that still doesn’t explain why.
So how will terrorism end? Perhaps the answer is the same as it is for other crime. Crime rates are generally falling in most mature societies. You just have to do as much as you can to improve the lives of all people, better education, less poverty, fair justice systems, more meaningful employment, less discrimination, more respect for other cultures and more kindness. But how?