Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocast

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I am writing this post in response to the Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust post on LinkedIn written by Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd Session of the UN General Assembly.

Thank you for writing such beautiful words of profound wisdom. We need to remember how easily words of intolerance, words of aggression against any ethnic or religious group can take us down a path of destruction easily leading us to unspeakable atrocities against humanity.

Let us look for the good and the positive in each other for it is true that our thoughts become words which lead to the way we act which ultimately becomes ingrained in our character. We have choice. Let the angels of our better nature rule the day.

In the work that I do as a clinical and political psychologist I also understand the power of forgiveness on a personal and political level. Let us not forget this powerful healing mechanism that can transform humanity on all levels.

As we go about our daily lives, our greatest contribution is to watch our thoughts and guard against the thoughts of hatred and belittlement of others. This is where we should not have tolerance. Instead let us support the words of understanding, compassion and kindness towards our fellow citizens of this world. It will be these thoughts which lead to positive action and attitudes doing more to resolve conflict and restore a more peaceful world.

About The Author Dr. Eileen Borris is author of “Finding Forgiveness: A Seven Step Program of Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” and the forthcoming book “The Power of Forgiveness and the Healing of Nations.” She is also a speaker and has spoken at the United Nations General Assembly on the power of forgiveness and the healing of nations and is president of Forgiveness International.

Picture Credit: photos8.com

 

The Psychology of a Terrorist

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What makes terrorists tick – a real understanding of what drives terror

The Paris terrorist attacks have generated a wave of fear throughout the Western world. Fear has been compounded when it was discovered that at least one of the terrorists made his way to Paris using a Syrian passport and coming to the West as a refugee. This has created a knee-jerk reaction within the United States where some politicians are calling for the restriction of the Syrian refugee program to Christians, excluding Muslims. Governors in nearly 30 states from both parties – from Maine to Arizona – are saying that they will not take in Syrian refugees for fear of terrorists settling in their state.

The question that everyone is asking is what to do with the Syrian refugees? And perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Perhaps we need to think about what makes a terrorist?

Terrorists don’t start out being terrorists.

Some come from middle-class backgrounds with a good education. Many are Muslims who have seen time and again other Muslims being killed all over the world such as in Bosnia, Iraq, Syria or Kashmir. They begin to feel that the world has chosen one side and the terrorist will now choose their side. There have been many recruits who have never held a job, a position of power, or even a girl’s hand. When you offer a wife a salary and a pathway to have power, you have now created a situation which lures these young men toward radicalism.

These radical groups – ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Hamas – are equal opportunity organizations and attract everything from the sadistic psychopath to the humanitarian to the idealistically driven. These individuals have a need to belong, at least in their eyes, to something special. People seek actions that give meaning for their life. Some are thrill-seeking and some are seeking redemption.  Some terrorists believe their reward lies in the afterlife. All are disconnected.

In a speech at the United Nations, anthropologist Scott Atran suggested that the only way to fight back against radicalization is to borrow psychological strategies straight out of ISIS’s playbook. Any successful plan must “offer youth something that makes them dream of a life of significance through struggle and sacrifice in comradeship.”

As more anthropologists and psychologists begin chipping away at what makes terrorists tick, perhaps a real understanding of what drives terror will help us combat it in the future and prevent these unspeakable tragedies.

Dr. Eileen Borris is a licensed psychologist and has conducted conflict resolution in nine (9) foreign countries.  She has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, appeared in numerous media interviews and is the author of the bestseller Finding Forgiveness (McGraw Hill). 

Contact Dr. Borris at DrEileen@DrEileenBorris.com  Twitter @ERBorris

 

It Can’t Happen Here – A Commentary on Donald Trump

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote the novel, It Can’t Happen Here,” which imagined fascism coming to the US. The protagonist is Buzz Windrip, a populist demagogue who promises “to make America a proud rich land again.”

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He punishes nations that defy him and raises wages while keeping prices very low. One cannot help but to draw parallels to Donald Trump. Windrip is a demagogic huckster, “an inspired guesser at what political doctrines the people would like” who understands how to manipulate the media and considers the truth an irrelevancy. His constituency of economically dispossessed white men reveres his xenophobic nationalism and preposterous promises. After he wins the 1936 election, Windrip moves to assert control over the press, lock up his opponents and put competent businessmen in charge of the country.

Although this is clearly a novel there is an important message that we all need to take stock of. If fascism comes to the US it would be an American version, not a European one, and that an American fascist leader would likely declare himself an opponent of European fascism, an important point we all need to understand. There are already signs of his fascism. His rallies teeter on the edge of racial violence as we have seen just recently as African-American protesters were forcibly ejected from his events with the help of white supremacist thugs. And if you look at who Trump admires most as leaders around the world, they are dictators and not the democrats.

Trump appears not to know much about totalitarianism, nor does he appear to be an anti-Semite. What he does represent is a reality television star and cyber-bully on his third trophy wife breaking down any moral order possibly remaining. He represents what autocratic attitudes look like in a modern American context.

Der Spiegel, the German magazine has called Trump the most dangerous man in the world – and he is. There have been calls from all around the world from a Swedish nationalist party that started as a neo-Nazis white supremacist group which has disavowed Trump to the popular author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling to stop this madness taking hold in America.

The American founders designed a constitution to prevent the exercise of tyrannical power. They could never have dreamt up a situation we are living in today. What Donald Trump has done is create an America many of us thought we didn’t live in. We all need to wake up because the worse can happen here, and it might if we don’t take responsibility for the country we truly want to have.