How People Become Radicalized

Nothing makes me feel more bitter and cynical than feeling that I’m being treated unfairly. My mother would say, “Life isn’t fair.” Yeah, ma, I know. But that doesn’t give people a free pass to take advantage of that atmosphere and pile on. You still have the moral, ethical, and often legal obligation to do the right thing. Otherwise we have chaos and anarchy.

Without going into detail, recently I was screwed royally by an organization that pretends to believe in justice and equity. This was an organization that I trusted and relied on, so I’m feeling a little at sea. I don’t know what to do with my anger and frustration. I feel as if I could implode under the sheer weight of my righteous indignation.

And when I get pissed off, I cry. I’ve been crying quite a lot in the past few days. Not that that does me any good.

But this experience has given me a bit of insight. First of all, when counting my blessings, I realize that I have a great many blessings to count. If this organization’s douchebaggery is my biggest problem, then I’m quite fortunate indeed.

But it has given me a tiny taste of what it must be like to become so frustrated by the systems that hold you down that you feel forced to act out. It has made me see how a person becomes an activist, a protester, or, worst case scenario, a terrorist. Not that I’m advocating the latter. I am a pacifist to the very marrow of my being. I’m just saying I now get it. I may not approve, but I get it.

If this is my current level of anger and frustration, I can’t even imagine what it would be if I were trapped in a situation where my country was at threat from outside forces, or I perceived that my religion were under a similar threat, or global economic forces were such that I was watching the people around me starving or losing hope… I can’t imagine that level of fury. And then, if I didn’t have the education to realize that nothing is solved through violence and hate, if I didn’t believe I had options, and the only visible leaders who were proposing any type of change came from the lunatic fringe… what then?

It makes me think of a sign I once saw in an art gallery that said, “If you had behaved nicely, the communists wouldn’t exist.” Perhaps if we stopped being ruled by our own power and greed and worked more on raising others up instead of stepping on them, perhaps if we chose to be the voice of reason rather than the voice of fear and paranoia, we wouldn’t have so much homeland insecurity. Just a thought.



8 thoughts on “How People Become Radicalized

  1. lyn sutton

    I’ve been held down by a system that did serious damage because my belief in it made me question too late. Dealing with the frustration, anger and helplessness eventually taught me this lesson… How to avoid being screwed royally: Question everything… especially the answers. What if you get no answers? I guess that’s where beliefs are born because we’re not comfortable with unanswered questions but I put my faith in what I know, not what I want to believe…and what I know keeps evolving.

    Crying is good…tears cleanse your vision so you may see more clearly.

      1. lyn sutton

        It’s not easy to let go of the pain of betrayal. I realized that while the betrayers moved on unscathed I and my loved ones might never recover and I couldn’t let them take any more, so I let them have their imagined win and stopped fighting it. Being able to heal and move forward with laughter, joy and love was a better revenge.

  2. lyn sutton

    Don’t fear the unanswered questions. You’ve weathered many storms and the lessons gained will guide when you’re ready. Sometimes we need to wallow in the pain a bit to strengthen our resolve for the move forward.

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