Today the world is still in shock over the terrorist bombing in Brussels, and my Tuesday morning group mulled over the state of the world for a while. Several were clearly upset at the seeming foolishness of the acts, most were seeing it as very far away, and a few were seeing it as totally unrelated to their lives. After all if you didn’t tune into the media there wasn’t anything different to be perceived from yesterday, and the weather, with a few snow flurries, was much more important personally as a world event.
Terrorist events are unrelated to nearly everyone’s daily life, and their sole purpose is to get ordinary people to worry about things their government is doing. But the government doesn’t seem to respond much to the terrorist actions, because they are in control of things incredibly more powerful. The only power the terrorists have is anonymity so they can wheel their bombs into public places like airports. If they struck openly, like a standard military campaign, they would be quickly beaten into submission and death. Terrorism is thus a proof positive that they are militarily weak, and the only power they have is to trigger a media response.
“If it bleeds it leads.” So, the terrorists only option for making a public statement is to make some innocent people bleed. Their point is to make a statement that they and their group are being mistreated, but they can’t strike back directly because they don’t have the power to do so. But a terrorist attack generally results in a counterstrike by the group that they attacked that is much more powerful and much worse, and the very people they are representing, who were suffering before, are now suffering even more. Terrorism is usually counterproductive for the perpetrators.
When the major players get involved in public homicide the stakes are much higher and vastly uglier. There were, very approximately, two hundred million (200,000,000) people killed in wars and major conflicts between the years 1900 and 2000; that’s two million people per year, and that divided by 365 means there were 5,500 people killed on average every day for an entire century. That is two World Trade Centers every single day, of people being killed in conflicts. When looked at that way the Brussels bombing, that may end up with a final death toll of fifty-five people is only one one-hundredth the average death toll for every day of the 20th century.
And yet we are horrified. And we should be, but not at the death of a tiny fraction of the human population, but because of the foolish stupidity of the action and its ineffectiveness. The bombing only serves to make many people of the world worried, and worried about something they have absolutely no influence over. Thus, the terrorists’ only success is to make the general public a bit more anxious, and the people the terrorist thought they were defending more subject to the wrath of the great powers of the world which will strike them even further down.
Isn’t it obvious that the world is improved by helping others improve their lives and not terrorizing them?