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Terrorism: Encounters with the Heart of Darkness

November 20th, 2015 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, what is the appropriate reaction to terrorism when it invades our life?

Social media sites have been lit up like a Christmas since the news of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Lebanon reached us. The posts have ranged from shock to anger to righteous indignation to dismay – all understandable responses to the frightening events.

I always refrain from comment in the immediate aftermath of such news. During that time, I do not read or listen to the news reports in any detail. I do not want to know the grisly details or hear the plethora of experts analyze the matter from every conceivable angle. I need time to process what happened and wrestle with what it means.

It is worth pointing out that these incidents are unfortunately not unique. The media seized on these attacks because of the severity of them. But terrorist attacks are almost a daily occurrence now. A Wikipedia article I perused tallies 289 terrorist incidents in 2015.

I won’t pretend to understand all the forces at play or to have any special insights into the political, sociological or psychological factors. But here is what I do know.

Evil exists in the world. It is a living entity. Regardless of whether or not you believe in God (and by extension, in the concept of Satan), evil exists. It lurks in the shadows waiting for the opportunity to infect us.

Terrorism is not about religion. It clothes itself in religious hyperbole and hides behind a smokescreen of religious doctrine. But I repeat: It is not about religion. It is about radical ideology which dismisses all points of view, and all codes of conduct, but its own.

Terrorism feeds on the emotions it incites. Anger feeds it. Intolerance feeds it. Fear feeds it. I will not try to convince you not to feel these emotions. It is only human to do so in such times as these. We have to experience them in order to release them. But if we hold onto them too long, we feed the beast that made us experience them to begin with.

Acts of terrorism make us crave righteous revenge. But revenge is never righteous. It is part of the endless cycle of hatred and violence. Every act of revenge invites another act to mirror it. Revenge is a losing game.

I am not saying that we should simply turn the other cheek. We must seek retribution for acts of terrorism. But retribution does not partake of anger. It pauses to ask: What shape should justice take at this moment? What can we do to seek reparation without lowering ourselves to the level of those who harmed us?

Retribution may include a show of force including armed conflict – but only in measured amounts, and with careful regard for its effects on those we commission to carry it out.

Fire requires fuel, heat and oxygen to ignite. Take away one of the three and there is no fire. Intolerance is the fuel, anger is the heat and fear is the oxygen of the terrorist fire. If we deny terrorists any one of these, we take away their power.

Terrorists choose to live in the heart of darkness. But we do not have to join them there. We need to choose to live in the light.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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