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Many terrorists act from a place of revenge against the US and its allies because of atrocities we committed against them. Hate begets hate and the circle goes on. We retaliate against their violence, they respond with violence. They need better options to stop the cycle.
It is the same mentality of cults. The education level of people who were conned by Jim Jones was also high. They were convinced to poison their own children because of what he taught. There were lawyers, doctors, teachers...and largely a population of black women. It is not only terrorists. People of all sorts are at risk for the same behaviors. That path, goal and purpose is exactly part of what we need to figure out how to circumvent. Aimless people who are seeking become victims easily. One thing worth considering is the more recent science that is showing that tragedies carry through our DNA. People who have been living in tragic circumstances that other generations of their family have also lived through, that has to have a major impact. The Middle East has been an area of conflict for a very long time, mostly religious based. But when you start talking generations of people living in conflict that kind of compounding mental and emotional pain has to be important I'd think.
I do understand how you feel, @Hozan. But within Buddhism, no one is beyond reach. It is easy to assume things of people who live under desperation and conditions we cannot imagine. They are easily swayed by many factors that we cannot comprehend. That does not and should not lessen our compassion for the victims and the impact such events have on humanity as a whole. Providing potential reasons why things happen has nothing to do with excusing it. We absolutely CANNOT come to ways to fix this problem without looking at the root cause. That is the only way.
@federica I don't think the average suicide bomber/attacker thinks that far. i think for them, their primary purpose is a sense of revenge, at least in their mind. The people who "inspire" them however seem to have a goal of turning the whole world into them so they can control everything. They wouldn't be able to do much of anything without all the people willing to join them though, and i think that is where we need to nip it in the bud. People who mostly just want to take care of their families and are desperate. The same type of poverty (in all ways, not just financial but people who especially have emotional poverty going on) is what is responsible for people joining street gangs. They want someone to have their back. They want loyalty at any cost. They want to belong and to feel like someone cares or looks out for them. That is the basis that ISIS recruits people based on. Emotion that America and its friends are responsible for their suffering in life and a promise to pay them and look out for them and get revenge on their behalf. For us to stop recruiting we would need to find a way to provide another avenue for these every day people to get the support and care they need so they aren't driven by desperation and anger to listen to crazy people.
It's interesting to me how common Catholic schools are in some areas. I live in a state that has a lot of Lutherans, I guess. We don't have religious schools in or near where I live, and few of them even in the larger cities. Compared to many areas, I mean. Kids who took religious classes got out of school every Wednesday to attend their classes. Us heathens got to play the whole time. Much preferred. Here, Charter schools are the more competitive ones with better things to offer, but our state has a good public school system, comparatively. I still hate the entire notion of how our public school system works. But comparing by state, ours is one of the better, thankfully. I don't know if I could do it myself. I would homeschool them before I sent them to Catholic schools, unless for some reason it was highly important to them to do so. I just don't believe in indoctrination of children. For us, our values are so vastly different than anything religious schools can offer.
Actually, a little off topic, I asked a visiting teacher how to best help young children (my youngest was 4 at the time) learn Buddhism. He got right into my face, like 2 inches away, and said "Then you need to be the person to start the school you need." Yikes! I do not have the education or credentials for that sort of thing. But his point was well made that we have to be responsible for the types of changes we want to see and do what we can, which for me meant no indoctrination (or as little as possible) but a focus on values without associated religious labels. It hasn't always been easy though to deal with various questions without a solid family anchor of "we are this and we believe this." But I wanted my kids to have a much choice in their lives as possible.