Chain Reaction Foundation

The Global Community Must Face up to the Threat of Terror; Hate Gets Us Nowhere.

by Margaret Bell | August 11, 2016

When presented with atrocities, either on the news or more close at hand, fear is the natural response. The trouble is, fear is a breeding ground for other emotions and sentiments such as panic, anger and hatred.

It is this hatred that feeds the cycle of violence to which we bear witness with such alarming regularity in modern society. Rather than stopping ‘the bad guys’ in their tracks and putting an end to violent extremism forever, hatred pours petrol upon the bonfire and fans the flames.

If we submit to hate, if we go against our better judgement and let prejudice, racism and bigotry take root within us, then the extremist groups that threaten us have achieved their aims.

The Cracks in Society

Writing for MJA InSight earlier this week, Dr Ian Hickie raised an excellent point. He outlined how, here in Australia, we have a habit of taking our social connectedness for granted. We are proud of our society – and rightly so in most cases – and we are passionate about the communities we live and work in. But unfortunately this can blinker us.

Individuals – particularly vulnerable individuals – can still fall through the cracks, even in twenty-first century Australia. Once these individuals have fallen beyond the protection that society can offer, a whole new range of feelings and emotions come into play; such as alienation, abandonment, resentment, and loneliness.

It is at this point that individuals become susceptible to radical ideologies, to obsessive thoughts, to sociopathic or psychopathic symptoms, and it is at this point that we – as a society – have failed.

Social Cohesion and Facing the Threat Together

When viewed in this light, it becomes obvious that increased social cohesion is the only way in which we can combat this and negate the threats we face. By removing the blinkers and by taking time to recognise those on the fringes of society, we are strengthening our society as a whole.

Creating a strong unit, bound by community spirit and mutual respect, and creating a truly cohesive society in which no one feels excluded, disenfranchised, disillusioned or ostracised, is the only way we can ensure the security and safety of our children and our children’s children.

Whereas hate divides, weakening the structure of our society and making us more susceptible to violent attacks; compassion, consideration and respect unites us. This unity brings with it strength, security and enriches our local communities.

Steps in the Right Direction

It is not difficult simply to raise our heads and look around us, or to take the time to think a little more deeply about our local communities. Such movements towards social cohesion can only begin at a personal level, with one individual opting not to be complacent, and instead deciding to reach out into their community and work to make its internal and external connections stronger.

As momentum begins to gather, you might be amazed how much of a difference even a bit of compassion and togetherness can make.

Margaret Bell, AM - Founder and CEO of Chain Reaction Foundation.

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