Public Comment

Make Peace with Terrorism

By Dharam Ahuja
Wednesday January 07, 2009 - 06:27:00 PM

We have been waging war on terrorism for seven years and the threat of terrorism at the global level looms just as large today as it was when we declared war on terrorism. I believe we need to shift the paradigm for action taking to “Making peace with terrorism.” The desired goal of any war too is to establish peace. However this is not any war and the actions we take by declaring war on terrorism are not the same that we will take by working on the paradigm of, “Making peace with terrorism.” 

Some of the greatest achievements of the mankind in the last hundred years were made possible because of paradigm shifts to peaceful means brought about by the visionary leaders. The paradigm shift to, ‘Non-violent active resistance to the unjust occupation,’ by Mahatma Gandhi resulted in the beginning of the end of colonialism. Majority of the British in the end changed their hearts and minds to align with Mahatma’s goals and methods. The sea-change in race relationships in the USA started with Martin Luther King changing the paradigm to his vision of, “Black and White walking hand- in- hand,” from the violent struggle against racism. That paradigm shift this year has brought America its first non-white president, an ultimate tribute to the power of a paradigm shift to peaceful means that touch the inner goodness in all of us. India and China, two of the world’s largest countries worked for almost 50 years on the paradigm of, “Let us eradicate poverty,” and adapted socialist and communist methods. That not only did not eliminate poverty, it made things worse. The on-going success in reducing mass-scale poverty began when both the countries changed the political paradigm a decade ago: To be rich nations. Policies and actions put in place in support of the new paradigm is reducing the ranks of the poor at the fastest pace since the end of WWII. Policies and action taking of Nations are aligned to the paradigms and working on the right paradigm is of the utmost importance. 

I believe that the visionary politicians of the world must look at the terrorism menace with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. And the way to do that is by changing the paradigm for action to: “Let’s make peace with terrorism.” This shift in paradigm will focus on changing the hearts and minds of the people on all sides and by allowing us to work on the root causes of what causes ordinary people to become terrorists; it will bring about the true end to the terrorism menace. Killing a few thousand or a few hundred thousand people under the pretext of war against terrorism has not and will not put an end to terrorism. “Hatred in return for hatred has only brought more hatred.” The only way to cut through a cycle of hatred is by infusing love to break the cycle. Palestinian/Israel problem has been a time bomb since the end of World War II and will remain this way until one side takes the bold step to stop the killing and infuses love. For example, the peace may begin to flow the day when politics encourages Israeli parents to adapt Palestinian orphans and raise them as their own. This and other acts of total love will break this cycle of hatred, nothing else will. The new paradigm will require working with Saudi Arabia to alter the hateful messages coming from the seat of Islam: Mecca. For example, Mecca could make a fresh start in accepting co-existence with other faiths by hosting a first multi-faith conference somewhere on Saudi Arabia soil. Saudi Arabian money going to Pakistani madrassas could be channeled to providing more general purpose schools to prepare the children for competing in the global economy. Nations could adapt policies about no forced conversions. For a lasting peace amongst people of different faith, each one of us must learn to respect others faith as much as our own and there can be no compulsion to stay in faith or convert.  

When Mahatma Gandhi changed the paradigm to fight colonialism, those who were waging war on the British to end colonialism withered away under the pressure from their own constituents. Similarly when Martin Luther King changed the paradigm to improve race relations in America, those pursuing the same goal with violence gradually disappeared under the force of their own people. I believe pursuing the paradigm, “Let’s make peace with Terrorism,” will ultimately result in the isolation and demise of the likes of Al-Queda and Taliban under the force of their own people. The silent majority of the people of any faith want peace above all. It is easy to dismiss my suggestion of the paradigm shift while the horror of Nov. 26 in Mumbai still so fresh. Yet the only way LeT (Lasker-e Tyaba; the suspected group of Mumbai attacks) and JeM (Jaish-e-Muhammed) will go away is if they are isolated within their own society: The Pakistanis. The only way to defeat Al Qaeda is to align the hearts and minds of the majority of Islamic population with the actions taken by those who are the targets of Al Qaeda hateful crimes against all mankind. 


Dharum Ahuja is an East Bay resident.