"There's fear on the streets of London basically. I've not experienced that before, and I've been there for 12 odd years. I've never seen that kind of fear, especially in the night's hours... it's horrific to be involved in that kind of situation" (says, "Gareth" a witness at the London Bridge incident the other day of a "terrorist attack" on citizens).

As you may be aware, in London for e.g., there have been three major "terrorist attacks" (the latest one, ISIS claimed responsibility for, as part of their agenda to assert fundamentalist Islamist views and identity). How the British (and London) officials handle the whole thing is just like watching a repeat performance of how the USA handled 9/11 and other terrorist attacks on its soil... and, for that matter, you'll likely not find any national gov't anywhere handling the problem of "terrorist attacks" on their streets any differently. I have been studying these citizen and State reactions to "terrorist attacks" (and "mass shootings" or "mass bombings") since 9/11--and, I keep thinking (hoping) one day there will really be a different narrative given media attention as well... but, there doesn't seem to be. Fear spreads fear, terror spreads terror, and so little do I hear anyone saying anything really intelligent about how to undermine this cycle of violence/hurting/fearing --i.e., terror. Officials just want revenge. It seems everyone is still operating on that principle--and, real "understanding" and possible solutions to the problem are extremely rare. So goes the surface simplistic discourse around terrorism, at least I am speaking about it from a Westerner (North American) perspective.

There is a complex discussion required to address effectively growing terrorism, and that is not the discussion that national governments, or coalitions (like USA, UK, etc.) want to have. They want, like the media outlets, to just follow in the same old, unworkable, ways of "blame game" on the terrorists and their groups (e.g., like ISIS). They default immediately to the hegemonic (only allowed) discourse of "safety and security" with elements like: we're going to be tougher now than ever and we won't be defeated by them (often, calling them, the "terrorists" words like "cowards")... we're putting more police and military presence on the streets, etc.

Where is the complex discussion, questioning, and non-reactive discourse in these times? "Safety and security" discourse is not where you will find it because it tends largely to be fed by high-fear among the society in "emergency time." Being tough and hyper-masculine and military is not where you will find it. Our entire public platforms of mainstream media, and often even the alternative stations (like Democracy Now) also barely touch the complex discussion even after emergency time wears off. So, what would that more complex discourse look like? I won't go into that here in this short blog, but I am glad to engage if others want to. I simply, will take a primary prevention response to such horrific events like in London. I also won't forget the mutual causal network of "reasons" why terrorists fight guerilla warfare in the streets of the dominant Western hegemonic nations like the US or UK. I'll keep it simple to say, there is no concerted effort by these media and State sources to actually talk about the problem of fear/terror itself as the deep-rooted source of violence/hurting/oppression and "wars" for that matter. There is a war going on, and UK and US are in it. Don't expect anyone is free from the effects of war. Don't expect anyone is innocent either. I'd start with facing the fear that prevents us in the West from being partly accountable for what happens when these horrific strikes take place. Facing fear... getting beyond our blinders to how we participate in global violence. There's the affective level of analysis, I'd call fearanalysis that is required. Where are the voices of fear management experts in times like these? No, the discourse hegemony is flooded by security and safety talk, not fear talk and how Fear is an important signal, catalyst, and metamotivation to bring Fearlessness about for transformational learning. And, it may even be the way to empathize with the "killers" or "cowards" however we may want to label them.

That latter, would be part of the complex discussion that has potential to lead to solving the problem of terrorism (attacks) that creeps into the West from the 'Other'... oh, but once we actually face our fear (i.e., our shadows, and 'fear' projections onto the Other) we will see we too have been terrorizing others all over the world for centuries--- it's called "wars" and "invasions" and "dominations"... violence by any other name. Terrified people will return to terrify those who are behind the terror--and, that all adds up to a self-reinforcing cycle of violence--a Fear Problem, a Fear Wars... I have said all this kind of thing for 28 years, and still the media and State... the officials in power... don't leave room for that complex discussion. And, they won't until the citizenry demand more than "safety and security"--and demand, discussion about building a world, a country, a city, based not on fear but fearlessness... There are multiple "tools" and "theories" to draw upon for an critically educated public so we don't merely listen to media and the State continue to repeat their "solutions" which are no solutions at all. The level of sophistication of discourse of these outlets are pathetic, as I see it, from the perspective of fear management/education or fearanalysis. The Fearlessness Movement is a whole other discourse and history to tap--and, we require so much more creativity than the same old hypnotic repetitions we hear even to this day.

One can only keep offering citizenry and leaders the alternatives. That's my task, and others who are looking progressively ahead and deep enough to get to the real root problems of our world, and why wars continue...

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  • This is a complex discussion indeed. It is so true that people who are terrorized or abused often resort to terrorizing and abusing. It is a common assumption in many fields of psychology. What a grand study it would be to look at those who have been horribly terrorized or tortured but somehow have come out to be peace leaders  (and we do hear about them once in a while)!  I'm sure that "fearlessness" would emerge as the common variable as the component of love so necessary in our world today. Thanks for this Michael.

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