Why this American artist loves terrorists and thinks you should too

In Inspirational, Politics & Society
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Why I love terrorists

Yes, you read that correctly. Don’t let it put you off your lunch.

This video message by Prince Ea points us away from our usual knee-jerk reaction to mindless acts of violence to a new perspective. If you don’t feel up to watching the video below, here is a summary of his arguments. It’s worth a read, I promise. Or you can watch him delivering his beautiful message. Either way, it’s worth it.

How could anyone possibly love those who commit vicious acts against defenceless women and children, you ask. That’s a valid question, but maybe we should use a different word than love. Maybe that is a bit too much to expect from people. Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh suggests another word: understanding. Understanding is love’s other name, he says.

Prince Ea also quotes Noam Chomsky who says: “If we want to end terrorism we have to get serious about understanding it.”

But how can we possibly understand terrorist acts?

Here is a bit of symbolism to help you. Every terrorist attack starts in your head as a seed and grows into an ugly tree, says Prince Ea. Okay, we get that.

Then he continues: “You know those trees that are all twisted and distorted? You know why they look like that? It’s because they started growing under stress and they are trying to make their way through the stress up to the light. People are just like that.”

When we see someone with a twisted, distorted perception doing ugly, harmful things, that’s because they too have been planted in a twisted, stressful environment. And they are trying to find their way up to the light. But unfortunately, they end up creating more darkness.

So here’s the thing.

If we could put our emotions and reactions aside for one second, we would realize that if we had their history, conditions, if their suffering was our suffering, if their level of consciousness was our level of consciousness, then we would think, act and behave exactly the same as they do.

What is so hard to understand about that? This is not condoning, this is understanding. This is love.

Allow me to interject here for a second. I agree with Ea. I have so often in my life asked myself the question: “If I had grown up in a household where I was taught from day one that the neighbour down the street is rubbish and a cheat and follows a godless religion, would I have had the sense to question that?” Probably not. Hatred is oftentimes taught at home and further embedded by the prevailing societal norms.

All societies indoctrinate.

If on top of that you are poor with no prospects, you need someone to blame… you see where I’m going with this.

I’m not saying joining a terrorist organization is a good choice or even the choice that I would have made in a similar situation. All I’m saying is, I can understand the possibility of such a choice.

Henry Wordsworth Longfellow puts it brilliantly: “If we could see the secret history of our enemies, we would find in them enough sorrow and suffering to disarm all of our hostility.”

Could you entertain that possibility?