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Article Title

The Challenge of Terror: A Traveling Essay

Abstract

So here I am, a week late arriving home, stuck between Colombia, Guatemala and Harrisonburg when our world changed. The images flash even in my sleep. The heart of America ripped. Though natural, the cry for revenge and the call for the unleashing of the first war of this century, prolonged or not, seems more connected to social and psychological processes of finding a way to release deep emotional anguish, a sense of powerlessness, and our collective loss than it does as a plan of action seeking to redress the injustice, promote change and prevent it from ever happening again.

I am stuck from airport to airport as I write this, the reality of a global system that has suspended even the most basic trust. My Duracell batteries and finger nail clippers were taken from me today and it gave me pause for thought. I had a lot of pauses in the last few days. Life has not been the same. I share these thoughts as an initial reaction recognizing that it is always easy to take pot-shots at our leaders from the sidelines, and to have the insights they are missing when we are not in the middle of very difficult decisions. On the other hand, having worked for nearly 20 years as a mediator and proponent of nonviolent change in situations around the globe where cycles of deep violence seem hell-bent on perpetuating themselves, and having interacted with people and movements who at the core of their identity find ways of justifying their part in the cycle, I feel responsible to try to bring ideas to the search for solutions. With this in mind I should like to pen several observations about what I have learned from my experiences and what they might suggest about the current situation. I believe this starts by naming several key challenges and then asking what is the nature of a creative response that takes these seriously in the pursuit of genuine, durable, and peaceful change.

Author Bio(s)

John Paul Lederach is Professor of International Peacebuilding at The Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Professor Lederach is widely known for his pioneering work on conflict transformation. Lederach is involved in conciliation work in Colombia, the Philippines, Nepal, and Tajikistan, plus countries in East and West Africa. He has helped design and conduct training programs in 25 countries across five continents. He is the author of The Moral Imagination: the art and soul of building peace. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005; The Journey Toward Reconciliation. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999; Building Peace: sustainable reconciliation in divided societies. Washington, DC: USIP; Preparing for Peace: confliction transformation across cultures. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995. He can be reached at krocinst@nd.edu.

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