I’m not too old but I was alive when the terrorist attacks occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 hit the U.S. (and the subsequent laws and regulations) and the attack was mentioned in school. It was my first encounter with terrorist attacks. Although I lived through all of this, I still feel that terrorist attacks (and hate crimes) shouldn’t occur. Some things go against nature, such as children who die before their parents/guardians. Likewise, terrorism is unnatural to me, despite terrorism occurring for a very long time.
I’m only a student-teacher. I’ve been at my school site (a high school) for nearly an entire school year. Since then, I’ve had to cover 4 terrorist attacks (though I didn’t cover one every time it happened, such as the recent one committed by a couple of Palestinians in Israel last week, and I only covered that region of the world a few weeks ago). The first one I covered was the attack in Paris, France late last year. Then I covered the one in San Bernardino, CA (USA). Then I covered the one in Brussels, Belgium. Today, I covered the one in Orlando, FL (USA).
I get a new bunch of students after the semester changes. With the first semester bunch, I was only able to cover the Paris attacks. Feeling what I felt, I asked the class “How do you feel about this attack?” And one of my brightest students answered, (I’m paraphrasing in quotation marks to show the student’s response; I don’t remember something that happened so long ago through this exhaustive experience), “These attacks occur so often that I’ve become desensitized to them.”
I was taken aback given my feelings toward terrorism. But I surveyed the class and almost my entire class had a hand raised. Their faces had not changed. That just brought me despair. I told the class that I didn’t want terrorism to continue so frequently in their time to the extent that they’re desensitized from it. They are the future. Make changes and do good.
With the second group, I covered the San Bernardino and Orlando attacks. I hope I brought peace of mind to my students when I compared the two. With the San Bernardino attack, the perpetrators were on the run for several hours before they were caught. With the Orlando shooting, we know the gunman is dead, soon after his confrontation with law enforcement, so the world is safer for a little while longer.
I can’t remember exactly what I did with Brussels, but it is important to cover international attacks because it doesn’t just happen in the U.S. Also, when 9/11 occurred, other countries also covered it, making the quotable, “_insert country_, our thoughts and prayers are with you” and “Our hearts are breaking.” Because most people are in solidarity when it comes to terrorist attacks, and we can’t let terrorists win. We can’t be fearful. If we fear doing our daily tasks and being outside, being in crowded places, then the terrorists have won.
How do we open up people’s minds all over the world so people aren’t learning from forces of hate? How do we create the foundation so the next and subsequent generations aren’t desensitized from such things? My vision for the future isn’t new; a safe and sustainable planet Earth. I want all of my students to be successful. When will we reach rock-bottom in devastation so we can start rebuilding a safe and sustainable place to live? We shouldn’t reapply Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature through this intense frequency of attacks.
As I struggle through my student teaching experience, I hope to instill doing good deeds, consideration, and optimism among other skills for college and workforce (doesn’t mean that they’ll all take it). Don’t teach and spread hate; the costs outweigh the benefits.
Maybe we ought to try the Dalai Lama’s lesson – be compassionate toward others. If we suspect someone may commit an attack,
- Befriend them. Maybe they just want a friend
- Show we care about others. If we show we care about others, they’ll have someone to live for, even if they don’t want to live for themselves
- Be nice to everyone. Doing something mean (even though we’re all entitled to our bad days and bad moods), you never know who you might set over the edge with your action
- Multiple perspectives and evidence. People may have learned and kept discriminatory ideas, but those ideas can be changed given the other facets are shown and evidence provided (scientific or social experiments)