THE BLOG

In This World, Terror Will Not Stand

John Linder, an American politician, once asserted that "Our values and way of life will prevail - terrorism will not."

At no time should this be held truer than now, after the deadliest mass public shooting in modern U.S. history, where Omar Mateen killed at least 49 innocent people and wounded 53 more in an Orlando nightclub.

The news is ablaze with descriptions of his victims and stories of a community and world coming together to mourn this tragedy. Unless you've been under a rock the last few days, you've seen the faces of promising young people killed prematurely and their loved ones who are now forced to face the senseless manner in which they died.

And we're left with the single question of why.

Why did Omar Mateen kill all of these people? What did he hope to accomplish?

Without rehashing the news, it appears clear that he had sexual identity issues, mental illness, violent tendencies, social isolation and little in the way of personal accomplishments. Although Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS before the shooting, it is becoming less clear how directly his actions were linked to this group as opposed to his upbringing, personality, and skewed perspective.

And this is where the lesson begins. We can pray for the families and those we've lost, share inspirational pictures of unity, hold tributes, denounce the NRA, dissect Omar and pledge opposition to the misdirected ideals of terrorist groups.

But in the end, much of this won't prevent another attack from happening, and that is what we must come together to do.

We need to create a world where terror does not stand, where it cannot stand.

We need to implement systems and policies that promote openness, acceptance, health and wellbeing. We need to foster gratitude and kindness and put forth peaceful solutions.

We need to make treatment for mental illness accessible, affordable and socially acceptable.

We need to stop glorifying violence.

We need to dedicate more resources to early detection and treatment of aberrant behavior. And we need to stop denouncing behavioral research as secondary fluff and start realizing the powerful impact that it can have on preventing violence, miscommunication, strife, and conflict.

We need to be aware of and appreciate the enormous impact that our environment plays in shaping our behavior and use this to design communities to foster better health and well-being.

Our educational system, parents, community leaders and politicians need to be aligned in developing a new breed of humanity - one built on awareness, positivity, kindness, balance and heart.

Look around - hatred is killing us.

Bias and discrimination are killing us.

Closed-mindedness and judgment are killing us.

Keeping the status quo is killing us.

We can keep up with our cycle of sensational news stories, screenshots of the dead, and #[Insert tragedy] proclamations. One right after the other they come, tales of death and destruction, hopes squandered, and dreams squashed.

Or we can vow collectively to do something different.

It has to be a commitment we all make, one to honestly discuss our issues, to lay our mistakes on the table, to collectively admit that something isn't working and that our only solution is to stop insisting our way is the best and realize that a better way might be possible.

It will hurt and be uncomfortable. People will be offended. We will falter, make mistakes, get stuck and have to go back to the drawing board. We will wonder if this was all worth it as we struggle to find answers to hard questions, to find solutions when it appears that there are none.

But the time has come. How much blood has to run down the streets before we feel it in our gut, before it drowns us all?

To take a lesson from social sciences, consider yourself standing downstream a river. If dead fish are flowing from it, we can keep lifting those fish out, tirelessly working to clean the water. But in the end, we will get tired and have to stop. The dead fish will overwhelm us, and our work would have been for nothing. An alternative solution would be to go upstream, locate the source of the problem and fix it. Better yet, we make sure it can't happen again.

It's about prevention, not just managing the outcome.

For us, it's about changing our values, connection to one another and way of life. Yes, it sounds idealistic and yes, you may be blowing this off as inspirational junk. All words and no concrete solutions. But we haven't come together yet. We haven't unleashed the massive creativity and brainpower that only a group can provide, the energy of commitment.

We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to stop crippling this world with hatred and scorn just because that's how it's always been or because the alternative way seems implausible or silly.

It's time to create a world where terror will not stand, where it cannot stand. But it starts with you. It starts with us.