L’éléphant dans la pièce

I have been avoiding talking about l’éléphant dans la pièce for the last few days, because we have been so inundated by tragic accounts and assorted analyses of the recent horrific terrorist attacks. But there is one thought I would like to share.

When children are born, they are still capable of becoming anything. A child may grow up to be an artist, doctor, inventor, musician, scientist or architect, among many other possibilities. Every child born into this world is pure potential.

But children need to feel that they belong somewhere. If they are told that they are without worth or that their life has no meaning, they will seek out someplace where they are told otherwise.

Many children around the world have thus been led to dark places, from a White Supremicist movement in Wisconsin to an ISIS cell in Syria. The vulnerability that leads to recruitment into such hateful organizations begins with neglect, abandonment and prejudice.

Whatever our short-term response to terrorist threats, any meaningful longer term plan must include changing the conditions that turn young people into lost souls, easy pickings for recruitment to extremist ideologies.

I hope that amongst the billions of dollars that will undoubtedly be spent on new forms of warfare, some resources will be set aside for battling the conditions of neglect and economic abandonment of youth that make it all too easy for terrorist movements to thrive and grow.

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