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Friday, April 19, 2013

Narcissism Explains Why We Are Vulnerable To Terrorism

As I write this, metro Boston is in a total lockdown as a manhunt continues for one of the (at least) two suspects in Monday's Boston Marathon terror attack.

The suspect -- as well as his brother, the second suspect shot dead earlier this morning -- is reported to be a young man from the Central Asian (and former Soviet republic) nation of Chechnya. 

Chechnya is a heavily predominant Moslem country which, when it was a Soviet republic, caused huge headaches for the USSR. Both brothers are reported to have entered the United States about a year ago.

It is not impolitic to ask how these young men got here. In fact, if defending the populace is the greatest concern, the question is not merely imperative.

It is mandatory.

Some will hesitate to ask it. Others will do so, sheepishly.

It is time -- it has been time, actually, for a very long time -- to ask what values cause many of us to hesitate or refuse to ask the question, much less to ignore the answers.

Many of us are afraid of being called intolerant, intemperate, even nativist or worse, racist.

The "other side" does not hesitate for a moment to impute the vilest of motives to those with whom they disagree. This has caused their opponents -- their targets -- to hesitate to say, to ask, to do the things necessary for the maximum protection.

The fear of criticism, of being tarred with "the vilest of motives," has collectively caused us to lower our guard.

That is all because we have placed a higher value on what others think of us, or at least on avoiding a stinging rebuke if not societal disapproval, than on homeland security.

It is because we have become, we are in fact, too concerned about the "us," the "me."

Being overly concerned about others' perceptions or opinions of us is what the psychiarists call a form of outerdirectedness. However, this often leads with encouragement to selfishness and then to outright narcissism. This is a mental disorder and makes one generally a toxic person.

This extreme narcissism has led many of us to place a higher value on the approval of others than on mutual security. It places a higher value on one's feelings than on the outcome which results.

It is the opposite of leadership, of compassion, to have this view.

We will only be safe from terror when we stop thinking only about ourselves.  It is a sign of charity, of maturity, to sacrifice one's feelings and risk the disapproval of others (however undeserved it may be) in order to ask the important, necessary questions in furtherance of the protection and security of oneself, of one's family, of one's neighbors and friends.

The battle against terror, you see, is all about values.

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