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Transforming Terror

Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World

Karin Lofthus Carrington
Susan Griffin
with Howard Teich
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Transforming Terror
    Book Description:

    This inspired collection offers a new paradigm for moving the world beyond violence as the first, and often only, response to violence. Through essays and poetry, prayers and meditations,Transforming Terrorpowerfully demonstrates that terrorist violence-defined here as any attack on unarmed civilians-can never be stopped by a return to the thinking that created it. A diverse array of contributors-writers, healers, spiritual and political leaders, scientists, and activists, including Desmond Tutu, Huston Smith, Riane Eisler, Daniel Ellsberg, Amos Oz, Fatema Mernissi, Fritjof Capra, George Lakoff, Mahmoud Darwish, Terry Tempest Williams, and Jack Kornfield-considers how we might transform the conditions that produce terrorist acts and bring true healing to the victims of these acts. Broadly encompassing both the Islamic and Western worlds, the book explores the nature of consciousness and offers a blueprint for change that makes peace possible. From unforgettable firsthand accounts of terrorism, the book draws us into awareness of our ecological and economic interdependence, the need for connectedness, and the innate human capacity for compassion.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94945-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvi)

    The book you hold in your hands presents a path through which we might one day meet the challenge of terrorism and bring peace to our troubled world. If we are ever to put an end to the terrible cycle of violence terrorism causes, the use of more violence is not, in the end, the answer. As this book makes clear, in the effort to transform hearts and minds, we need to change the way we think, both personally and on the level of public policy. Yet if we are to do that, we must first enlarge our understanding of...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Introduction:
    (pp. 1-4)

    We have called this collectionTransforming Terrorinstead of transforming “terrorism” for a reason. If many of the pieces included here address the complex causes of terrorism, this book also explores the dominion of terror itself. Over the last de cade, whether in Palestine or Israel, Pakistan or Mumbai, Baghdad or Kabul, Rwanda or the Sudan, the United States, Spain, or Great Britain, we have witnessed a vicious cycle in which terrorism causes terror and the experience of terror seeds acts of terrorism. And yet, though the human emotions we all share—fear, grief, and loss—are so clearly part...


    • [PART ONE. Introduction]
      (pp. 5-6)
      Susan Griffin and Karin Lofthus Carrington

      At this crucial moment in history, we are facing a formidable challenge. Over several de cades, as new incidents of violence continually arise in different locations throughout the world, countless attempts to stop terrorism by force have lead to failure or, with the seemingly endless proliferation of violence, a sense of futility. Yet even if the means we have been using are in effective, the task of ending terrorism is not insurmountable. What is required of us all, however, is not simple; no single approach or strategy will solve the dilemma. We are being asked by circumstance to undergo nothing...

    • CHAPTER 1 Terror and Terrorism
      (pp. 7-66)

      Terrorism remains a crime against humanity no matter who commits it or for what reason. As one of the six children who survived the Oklahoma City bombing, Chris Nguyen, has said, “Terrorism is terrorism, no matter where it comes from.” To be free of violent attack is a primary human right; yet violence against civilians continues in many forms. In this light particularly, to limit the definition of terrorism to specific acts of violence committed in one region, in a single period of history, or by one kind of perpetrator is to harness the meaning of the term to a...

    • CHAPTER 2 An Unbearable Heartache: Trauma, Violence, and Memory
      (pp. 67-101)

      Healing the effects of terror and terrorism, an essential step in the process of transformation, must begin with an understanding of trauma. Trauma is the inevitable result of violence. Even the threat of violence produces mea sur able and enduring damage to both the body and the mind. The effects of trauma lodge in the flesh so that despite every attempt to forget, the body remembers. With even the slightest trigger—an unexpected burst of light through a window at night, a loud sound, a shadow falling suddenly across the road—those who have suffered from violence can be sent...

    • CHAPTER 3 Denial, Dogma, and the Heroic Myth
      (pp. 102-138)

      We have put the subjects—denial, dogma, and the heroic myth—together in this chapter because they are interconnected, both historically and psychologically. Jointly these habits and assumptions shape and limit consciousness, encouraging violence and often arguing that force is the best or even the only possible response to conflict. Denial, a basic human response that protects both body and mind from shocks too strong to absorb, can be very powerful, as Joan Didion so beautifully describes, overwhelming both reason and evidence. To deal with trauma, those who have suffered trauma may construct an unrealistic sense of strength, If at...


    • [PART TWO. Introduction]
      (pp. 139-140)
      Susan Griffin and Karin Lofthus Carrington

      The damage that the infliction of terror causes cannot be overestimated. Like toxic radiation, such damage has widespread consequences, psychological and spiritual wounds that are often passed from one generation to the next. In some lives, this damage can never be entirely erased. But the same human genius that devised weapons of mass destruction by probing the nature of the molecule and atom has also probed the nature of consciousness, finding compelling ways to understand and heal the human spirit.

      Each of the chapters that follow explore various aspects of the understanding of the experience of terror, terrorism, and healing, insights...

    • CHAPTER 4 In a Dark Time: The Wisdom in Grief, Fear, and Despair
      (pp. 141-172)

      The poet Theodore Roethke’s words, “In a dark time the eye begins to see,” serve as potent reminder for our time. Assaulted by ads and images that tell us we can look young forever or be happy all the time, we have been taught to look away from tragedy and suffering. Yet something valuable is lost in the bargain. As our constant good cheer becomes more superficial and brittle, we forgo the rich knowledge that comes from the dark side. Yet if terror inspires blind and unthinking reactions, as with any threat, this crisis also affords the opportunity to see...

    • CHAPTER 5 Truth Telling and Justice
      (pp. 173-212)

      The state of mutual respect and trust that constitutes lasting peace must of necessity include the public recognition of any injustice committed in the present or the past.

      Justice is often confused with revenge. But if these are linked, as when, for instance, the desire for revenge is satisfied by justice, there are also distinct differences between them, significant to the healing of both victims and society as a whole. If the desire for revenge is an understandable response to abuse, revenge by itself cannot liberate consciousness from the weight of trauma. Indeed, revenge is often the starting point for...

    • CHAPTER 6 Reclaiming Our Selves: Gender and Violence
      (pp. 213-251)

      Just as conventional ideas about masculinity and femininity keep us from realizing and expressing our full potential as human beings, these limitations contribute to many forms of violence, including terrorism. If we are to meet the challenges posed by terror and terrorism, we must address the way societies define and shape humanity according to gender. Indeed, the characteristics of masculinity that many cultures promote resemble the qualities required of a good soldier. The notion that “real” men are naturally aggressive, if not at times pitiless, and are always brave under fire fuels violence and war, as does the valorization in...

    • CHAPTER 7 Compassion and the Interdependence of Peace
      (pp. 252-295)

      Most religions teach compassion. Yet when talk about national security gets serious, the power of this emotion to change events is usually underestimated if not dismissed. But though at times compassion may be consigned to a region of fantasy where only unrealistic hopes and goals dwell, it is firmly based in reality. Indeed, empathy is hard-wired into human nature. Cognitive scientists have discovered that cells in the nervous system called “mirror neurons,” part of an assembly of nerves, fire in sympathy with and imitation of actions and emotions we observe. (That is why we want to laugh when others laugh...

    • CHAPTER 8 Paths to Transformation
      (pp. 296-352)

      By presenting new and deeper ways to frame the problem of violence against civilians that the world faces today, we have provided several starting points for significant change. For this reason, we have chosen to end this anthology with a selection of essays that present a variety of practical paths to transformation. This selection is neither exhaustive nor even representative of the rich variety of paths toward peace but instead provides some examples for what can be done.

      Realizing that despair and cynicism prevent so many from working for social and po liti cal change, we have chosen to begin...

  8. Contributor Biographies
    (pp. 353-362)
  9. Credits
    (pp. 363-370)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 371-371)