Living With Terror
TED – The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Adichie
We can easily speak of living in terror for a number of reasons. But we are not used to the idea of living with terror – as a normal part of living – a condition so normal we don’t usually notice it. I believe this is the situation for most of us. And that we cannot be compassionate towards ourselves or others without realizing this.
Terror was part of the many Totalitarian regimes that flourished in the 20th Century. The rulers of these governments used terror (successfully) to control their subjects. Once terror took over, there was no escape from it – except a complete destruction of the country. Usually by outside forces, but in the case of the USSR, by internal forces that no one has adequately understood.
But a new kind of terror is now in force, as part of Globalization, it enforces conformity just as ruthlessly. It can easily blend with traditional terrorism, depending on local circumstances. But the trend is toward the dominance of the new type, because it works so easily – no external force is needed. It is enforced by everyone – from the bottom up. As Sheldon S. Wolin says in Democracy Inc.
Once affluence is reached, everyone is terrified of losing it. I speak here of individuals, not societies. Individuals are terrified of losing it, of becoming homeless. For human society as a whole, however, we have the opposite situation – we are incapable of saving it, and do not seem eager to do so.
The reason for this paradoxical behavior is not hard to understand. Why try to save something that is so evil?
This new kind of terror is part of what we now call Democracy – in an amazing about-face. I was puzzled by the use of this world to justify the Iraq War. We were going to bring Democracy to the entire Middle East! When it was clear to me that we did not have democracy even in America.
Underneath this confusion of words, something deeper was going on. We had discovered a new way of life and were determined to convert others to this new religion (especially Islam). We are now trying to do the same in Afghanistan – without much success.
If we were smart (which we certainly are not) we would make an effort to understand ourselves, and our puzzling behavior. Instead, we simply demonstrate, over and over, that we know the right way to be – by not being at all!
This is the solution to living with terror – by not living at all. And by having no awareness of this, at all.