Monday, May 02, 2011


I am a terrorist.

Fear is the most efficient motivator known to man. We like fear, love it, in fact - except of course when we're the ones afraid. Once we begin down the pathway of fear it's exponentially more difficult to stop, let alone change course.

This isn't strictly about violence, although it seems we're most afraid of pain, and threats of pain work out most efficiently. I say pain and not death because I don't actually think too many people are afraid of death, so long as it comes quickly and quietly. Death used to be humanity's ultimate fear.

Death was top dog because life was full of pain. Today we've mostly insulated ourselves from pain - by outsourcing our manual labor, by surrounding ourselves with mindless entertainment, by feasting on painkillers. We've created a world where the end of life has very little difference from the living of it.

Nuclear war is only terrifying for the people who live outside the blast zone, those who might have to suffer through the terror of cancer, deformities, and disease. Economic collapse means, for most of us, nothing but a lower standard of living - in other words, a more painful life.

I am a terrorist because I fear pain and I am willing to inflict it on others to avoid it in my own life. I keep a reserve account in a bank vault "in case" something inconvenient happens in my life, instead of giving that money to people who already suffer. I buy the cheapest products to maximize the amount I can spend on luxuries or minimize the amount I have to work - regardless of the suffering of those who make the products.

I am a terrorist, but I have outsourced my terror to strangers in far away places. If there's a murder on my street, its a breakdown of order; two is an epidemic. If there's ten murders downtown, I just stay in the suburbs. I pay my government to train one group of people to think they're super-human, so they can fly around the world and do brave things that insulate me from pain - at the same time I pay them to train another group of people to think they're sub-human, so they can be locked up and forgotten without any mark on my conscience.

I readily support the battle between "us" and "them," so long as I'm "us." When I become "them," the war is immoral.

Too often I participate in a story where the hero is Power and the villain is voiceless - which means the hero always wins. Too often I embrace the suicide of individualism for the promise of immediate gratification. I live in a world where pleasure comes only with the absence of pain. It works well for those who survive, but it seems like there should be some other way.

I am a terrorist.

What do I deserve?

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