What happened in Washington D.C. this week was not patriotism; it was domestic terrorism cultivated over many years.
While the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building shows how grievances—real and perceived—can quickly escalate to violence, it highlights something far more nefarious: How grievances can and will be leveraged to radicalize others to violence.
And it followed years of priming people to hate a perceived “enemy.” This strategy exploits people’s vulnerabilities, dissatisfaction and disillusionment, and it provides a false sense of relief. In the end, we are all victims of this plan.
To those who watched in horror, we are right there with you. But do not give up hope. There are many dedicated individuals and institutions committed to ending violent extremism. We’ve stood in solidarity with them for the last 10 years. This attack is not a setback to that great work, but an affirmation.
To those who watched in ambivalence or even tacit agreement, there is room for your grievances, too. Before you act on your frustrations, seek out someone willing to listen with an open mind. Ideologies do not offer comfort; they can never be the answer we seek for our pain.
Finally, to each of us, please consider that anyone willing to take responsibility for their journey deserves a chance for redemption. This principle is the bedrock of our organization and it can change lives.
It did for us.
Need to talk? We’re always available. Every call, message and email is completely anonymous and confidential. Click here.