When you are at war, you feel alone, isolated and as if no one cares about you. Think about it. Have you ever argued with someone and found yourself repeating the story over and over again in an effort to get people to be ‘on your side’? This is your effort to not feel alone in the battle. When a country is at war, the citizens of that country feel the same way. Unimportant and forgotten. This is at the heart of how terrorism spreads. When people feel this loneliness they are the most vulnerable. Terrorist organizations swoop in and recruit by giving the lonely a sense of belonging. The cycle of terrorism is a vicious circle: create a sense of isolation and fear and a false sense of belonging to the recruits.
Don’t we all feel helpless to stop this madness? Weirdly enough, a small answer may lie within our stepfamilies. Stepfamilies can be a war zone. Frankly, we are prone to bad behavior. When you think about it, we are a microcosm of what war is about. New people enter a community with new thoughts, philosophies and beliefs. Others are threatened by the new thoughts. They feel unsafe and they act out.
You have what I want. You have what I deserve.
Zainab Salbi, founder of Women to Women International, has studied war zones around the world. She has seen resistance to war in little ways that have a powerful effect. She writes about women who continue to teach music classes during the war in Iraq. She tells stories of the women in war torn Bosnia who insisted on wearing lipstick so to remind themselves and their oppressors of their own beauty and humanity. Ms. Salbi reminds us that it is these little actions that create huge resistance to terrorism.
We can use our personal wars as a symbol of resistance to the violence that we see in the world. Are there terrorists in your family? Are you at war with yourself? At war with a friend or family member? When we show compassion and kindness to ourselves and others, we are resisting. When we choose to show empathy towards our children, we are resisting. When we hug the ex or the stepmother, we are resisting. Ninety-five million people have a step relationship. We can choose to resist and change the world. It starts with a choice. Peace may very well be within our earshot and our touch.