Terrorism / fear works if we let it: How a lack of direct experience and contact allows fear to flourish.

Terrorism / fear works if we let it: How a lack of direct experience and contact allows fear to flourish.

I am currently in The Yemen helping a number of Universities develop quality assurance and teaching programmes in association with the British Council. At the moment every western government is advising its citizens not to travel to or within The Yemen because of a series of terrorist related kidnappings and murders. All of the few tourists that were here and quite a few foreign workers have now left.

Right now I am the only westerner in the city I am in. I am also the only person in the hotel I am staying in. Tonight over dinner I was talking to the hotel owner who was in tears about what all this was doing to his and others business and lives. 47% of the humans in The Yemen strive to survive on LESS that $1 a day. The economy of country like this is pretty fragile at the best of times. Add the current recession and stir in some killings and kidnappings and the whole thing is going badly wrong for this wonderful country (and many in a similar state) and its souls.

The problem is that the fewer people who come to places like this, sovaldisovaldi discount cialisdiscount cialis the fewer are inclined to come. This and a number of other countries are in a downward spiral because of fear. When I come out to places like this I try to bring other lecturers with me, best cialisbest cialis buy cialisbuy cialis but because they have no experience of operating in developing countries especially in the Middle East many people won’t even consider it and those that do pull out at the last moment due to fear.
It is a shame because if these countries aren’t going to descend even further economically, treattreat culturally and in terms of security they need help and they need help right now. This is not just altruistic sentiment. The world’s security, economic stability and social progress is a ‘systems’ problem, not just a problem of the individual components (countries) of the system. Fear is exacerbating the problem creating a fortress and protectionist mentality in many sectors.

The people who are still working out here are not nut cases. They take their security seriously and don’t take daft risks. They are normal people who are not letting fear grip them. Their experience here makes all the difference to their perspective of what they are doing and the risks they are taking. The people who are prepared to work here are all people with experience of such countries / situations. Those that don’t have such experience it would appear are letting unsubstantiated fears drive their thinking, attitudes and behaviour. Experience mitigates fear.

The world needs people who are prepared to work and help people like these in the situation they find themselves in. People, who are emotionally resilient, don’t let their fears develop out of proportion to the risk that exists. They also have a  vision of a better world. This week I met a woman from France who is running her own charity helping street kids get some education, nourishment and get a productive life. She has helped many of these children and many single mothers develop small businesses, get small loans and support them. She has no armoured cars or protection and walks the streets freely. I met another lady from Manchester who is living in an area the various governments are advising people to stay clear of. She is training the secondary school teachers in that area to provide quality education and not indoctrination. At the moment she is under the threat of having her funding cut.

Yesterday I discovered a project run through the British Council that takes groups of school kids abroad to experience other cultures so that they don’t just believe the biased views they are being fed about the west. This experience has killed the fear these kids have of the developed countries. It costs only £11,000 per group of 20-40 school kids but the funding is difficult to say the least. This one project was having such a positive effect on people’s attitudes before the funds became a problem. One Yemeni girl who had visited a school in Wales said on her return to the Yemen “I was scared before I went. When I got there I was scared. These people dressed differently, they spoke differently, they lived in different houses and ate different food. They even think differently. What I learnt in Wales was that we are all really the same underneath. I am not scared any more. We are all the same.”
True experience of the diversity of the world will help to reduce the fear.

The more people around the world let fear drive a protectionist attitude (both within developed and developing countries), the longer it is going to take to reverse the spiral and get the security, economic and social areas of all of our lives in the global village moving towards a positive outcome. Dealing with our fears of each other has to be a core priority. Governments, groups and media that stoke our fears are doing humanity and our global society a great disservice. There are a number of great people around who have the resilience not to take flight.

The more contact, exchange and therefore understanding we have of each other the harder it is for extremists (both ours and theirs) to use fear to drive the peoples of the globe further apart, breed distrust, break societies, ruin economic prospects and ultimately promote violent methods of problem solving. It affects all of our lives.

Without the experience and contact with everyone in the world no matter where, terrorism or anything else that promotes fear (flying, public speaking etc.) works by instigating our fear based emotions, making us want to withdraw (flight) which in turn makes the likelihood of our reaction to the situation be more fear.

Fight fear with experience and don’t take flight. Letting our fears get the better of us helps the terrorists, rewards them and starts the downward spiral. Right now we need emotional resilience on a global scale. Terrorism can only work if we let it.


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