Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How Do You Terrorize the Desensitized?

Have we raised the threshold of horror so high that nothing short of a nuclear strike qualifies as a 'real' war? -  Arundhati Roy

In the age of technology there is constant access to vast amounts of information. The basket overflows; people get overwhelmed; the eye of the storm is not so much what goes on in the world, it is the confusion of how to think, feel, digest, and react to what goes on. - Criss Jami

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …

Sometime in our not-too-distant future

He looked furtively from side to side, observing the mix of humanity walking past him with mixed emotions.  His mind reeled as he wrestled with a dichotomy, hating everything that these people stood for while simultaneously feeling sad and alone that he was never able to partake of its many gifts.  He didn’t see their struggles, sadness, anger or difficulties but instead focused on their blessings, happiness and apparent abundance and he hated them for it.

Thinking this way made it easier for him to do what he was told was his duty and destiny but even now he wasn’t sure.

“Should I do this or should I find another way?”, he wondered, desperate to know that he was doing the right thing or what the right thing even was.

He clenched his hands in frustration, inadvertently squeezing the small device in his hand and thereby committing himself to an outcome before he could decide for himself.

No beautiful virgins awaited his arrival.

Three men sat in an empty room and observed the violent event with cold, dispassionate, dark eyes.

They had been privy to the man’s thoughts and emotions for his entire Life, from the moment of his birth, to his years of being bullied and intimidated, to his desperate need to be wanted and appreciated, to his befriending by people who sought goals contrary to his own but which he was vulnerable to embrace …. right up to the moment that they were observing now.

“His hatred ran hot”, observed the first dispassionately.

“Perhaps”, countered the second, “but it didn’t run as deep as many believe it did.”

“Silence”, commanded the third, “Observe.”

They turned their attention back to the holographic image that floated between them.  Emergency crews were responding to the event and fear was evident in the immediate area. 

“A normal response for them”, the first man observed, “So what?”

“Perhaps”, the third man replied, “But do you notice that their media no longer covers it in detail like they used to.  There was a time when much analysis would be offered by the groups humans refer to as news agencies but now such events barely command a mention.”

“Why?”, asked the second.

“Because”, began the third, “They have spent so many decades desensitizing themselves through over analysis of such events that violence and a lack of sensitivity to such events has become the rule and not the exception.  Social media, which they invented so that they would be better connected with each other, has revealed that many carry pain, unbridled anger or other semblances of brokenness that they routinely and ruthlessly thrust upon the masses.  Social media has given a voice to many who shouldn’t have one and who years ago would have languished in private, with their evilness, contempt and brokenness destined to remain trapped in their minds until they died.  Pornography, once an underground interest, now exists as an accepted mainstream form of entertainment and seeks to diminish the sacredness of intimacy in humans, reducing human contact to acts of lust or violence or opportunities for power or self diminishment.  Their news and entertainment industries now routinely portray violence and death in a way that it is often more graphic than the real thing while simultaneously making such images entertaining, engaging and even desirable.  Even their religions, supposedly meant to inspire, have been reduced to acts of corruption and evil and positive leadership of any type, whether in government or otherwise, is difficult to find.  For leadership, they are so desperate that they look to entertainers who beguile them with empty drivel wrapped up as inspirational material with a demand that people live as they say and not as they do.  In regards to what we are watching right now, terrorist acts and warnings became so common over time that terrorists kept having to outdo previous attempts in order to achieve the same shock and horror value until they finally reached a point where they could no longer top previous efforts and so their efforts no longer produce meaningful results.”

He paused for a moment.

“The reality”, he continued, “is that humans cannot be terrorized in the traditional way anymore.  Their tolerance level to shock from anything, including events such as this, has finally reached its pinnacle.”

“You are saying that humans cannot be terrorized at all?”, asked the first, frowning as he contemplated the information presented to him.

“I didn’t say that”, replied the third, “I said that they can no longer be terrorized in the traditional way.”

“What does this mean?”, asked the second.

“It means that a unique event never before seen by mankind and so horrific that no amount of exposure in present society could have prepared them for it is required to both terrify them and unify them in their humanity”, the third said, no trace of emotion showing in his voice.

“And do you know what type of event this would be?”, demanded the first, “It sounds like such an event could either correct the race or destroy it.”

“Observe”, replied the third as he turned his attention back to the holographic image before him.

Two images were presented simultaneously, one that represented the rebirth of humanity and one that represented its apocalyptic end.

“Why are you showing us two images?”, asked the second man.

“Because”, replied the third man, “Two possibilities are present.  What determines which one becomes their reality is up to them.”

He paused for a moment before continuing.

“It comes down to their awareness of their humanity and what unites them instead of what divides them”, he said quietly.

All three men resumed their attention to the events taking place on Earth as emergency crews concluded their clean-up activities.

To be continued.

© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved

Epilogue – By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War

“We have leveraged these terrorists for years”, a man said as he watched the news in a hotel somewhere in Washington, “And now the news doesn’t seem to care anymore.  How can we drive our agenda if the news doesn’t help us?”

“Fear not”, his companion replied, “While the news is not as sensitive as it used to be, we can still promote the message that such people do not represent our beliefs and that we continue to be peaceful.”

“For how much longer?”, asked the first man.

“Not sure”, the second man, “But we have something else in progress that may be useful.”

The first man nodded as they both resumed watching their television.


This post was inspired by two tweets by B.D. Foley, a retired CIA Operations Officer and author, in response to a tweet that I shared earlier today.  Here are the tweets:

Original tweet


His tweet is actually a paraphrase of a quote from his book, CIA Street Smarts for Women: Spy Skills to Tell the Prince from the Predator.

Here is the original quote from his book:

There's so much violence in our society that terrorists must wonder how they can continue to terrorize. Westerners have seen it all in the violent games, movies, and TV programs. Terrorist chants of "Death to America, death to everyone" are now met with yawns.

When a man of Mr. Foley’s background makes an observation, even casually, I think it is worth sitting up and paying attention to.  His book, while directed towards women, is a book that we all should read, for our own protection and for the safety of our partners and our children.

The epilogue (referencing the Mossad’s motto) is unrelated but something that is intriguing to me.  In addendum 2 of my blog post If Paris Surprised You, Then You Are Part of the Problem, I made an observation about the Muslim belief of a concept called taqiya.  Here is the relevant excerpt from that blog post.

Addendum 2 – A View From a Muslim – November 15, 2015

I was discussing my blog with a Muslim today.  He and his family fled Iran just before the Revolution in 1979.  He asked me if I was familiar with taqiya, a concept whereby a follower of Islam may deny his faith, lie or say / do deceitful things or commit illegal or blasphemous acts, especially if they are in fear, under attack or need to accomplish a task that honors Allah.  It is written into Sharia law as an approved and condoned practice for the previously noted reasons. It is described here (Wikipedia) and here (How Taqiya Alters Islam's Rules of War).

When I asked him how you can trust someone who is encouraged to lie “in a way condoned by Allah” to promote the objectives of one’s faith, a faith where jihad is one’s religious duty because of the obligation to convert everybody to Islam willingly or by force, he shrugged and said “you can’t”.

He admitted that a Muslim could deny affiliation with extremists while privately endorsing them, could proclaim to be peaceful to your face while literally stabbing you in the back and could even burn down their own Mosque if it could be pinned on “someone against Islam” (establishing innocent victimhood) while at the same time remaining calm about it to show they are a peaceful religion.  In other words, anything that advances the cause of Allah is permitted.

This concept intrigues me.

It is not to suggest that all Muslims would lie for any reason, although whether someone was telling you the truth about their faith or was lying to mislead you is something you may or may not detect until additional damage was done.

While this is officially a part of Sharia law, other religions are not exempt from lying to serve their own needs, including abuse by Catholic priests and other atrocities committed “with the blessing of God”.

Of course, this concept is not limited to religion alone.  Politicians and other people routinely lie under the guise of representing our best interests.

I think we are a complex race, filled with phenomenal potential, a potential that is weighed down by complexities that we create for selfish, greedy or power-centric reasons.

If we can get past these things, we will all be better off and will be free to live up to our phenomenal potential.

What do you think?

Do you think we can reach this potential?

How long do you think we have to “get it right?”

Do you have the appropriate background and data to backup your assertion?

Are you sure?

What happens to you or your family if you are wrong?

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy advisor and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” (note the quotes) and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

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