Walking through the blues.

Four Personal Commitments to Combat Terrorism

Posted on November, 14th 2015 by Marie

Terror in Paris - how to prevent it?
Is there a way to combat violence?

Another horrific event – this time in Paris last night – rocked my nervous system.

I heard about it just as I was coming off an airplane from a business trip to Europe, and my gut instinct was outrage and a profound sense of sadness. It was quickly followed by anger. How can someone commit such a horrific act?

The random shooting of the latest batch of innocents happened in a place where people come to hear music. It hit home for me. It is my husband and son, who right now are on the stage in Europe at such events.

If people seeking to eradicate joy, music, and feelings of connection to self and others gain momentum, what musicians do, will die. Fear will keep bands and audiences at home behind closed doors.

Each time I send my youngest son to high school here in America, I wonder if there will be a school shooting.

From now on, each time I send my husband, his band, and our oldest son off to tour, I will forever wonder if there will be some deranged human being, who will shoot randomly at them and their beloved audience.

Each time I enter a Federal building, I have the Oklahoma bombing on my mind. Each time, I look at the New York skyline; I see in my mind’s eye the smoke billowing from the towers, while people jump to escape their last moments in living hell.

Walter and Jon are in Norway right now doing two shows that are billed as “A Celebration of Life.” There was a horrific and deadly shooting and bombing by a right-wing extremist in Norway a few years ago. And a rush of fear goes through my veins.

Our collective innocence is lost.

In so many ways, it seems we are not safe anywhere. When I hear of the latest horrific and senseless event, I feel the urge to do a quick headcount among my loved ones. In my mind, I place them geographically to make sure that they are not close to the latest bloodbath.

And I wonder when one of our loved ones might be next. I feel the temptation to join the multiple choruses online and in conversations that spew outrage. I want to vent my frustration and point fingers – find blame, find ways to prevent such madness.

I want to try to re-capture a sense of safety.

It is understandable. But it eludes me no matter what I try.

Whether the extremists that commit such crimes are motivated by religion or, as was the case in Norway and Oklahoma, by politics; it is extremists that commit terror. In the case of school shootings, it can simply be a desire for the terrorist to be seen as important.

Common for all acts of terror is one thing:

The perpetrators seek attention to further a personal sense of grandeur, or to further a cause or belief they embrace: be it a vendetta on the government or on those who believe in a different God.

But my urge to partake in the outrage and the blame-fest around why it happened, actually will give the terrorists exactly what they want:

When we give them extreme attention by our online response of blame-throwing and finger-pointing, we play right into their twisted playbook, because as a result we fear other people a bit more all the time.

By our actions, we multiply the wave of terror. Where terrorists created the original virtual earthquake of destruction, we multiply it manifold by creating a tsunami of outrage and anger that washes over all of us. We view videos of the terror, and crouch in front of our screens, while venting our sense of horror and blame online.

In our finger-pointing, we find others who  we deem to be guilty by association.

It seems to give us some measure of comfort. Anger and outrage are outlets for the adrenalized stress response that is created inside of us when we are afraid. Blaming others is our way to try to prevent it from happening again. We feel that we can create an illusion of safety by seeking to remove those who are “sort of like those who did it.”

But it is that anger that makes us blame  people who were not directly involved that precisely is what terrorists want us to do.

When we want to lash out by eradicating other ways of thinking – or at least removing it from being among us – we all lose our way.

Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Jesus, and Buddha would all remind us that, while our reactivity is natural, it doesn’t work to solve the problem. It rather perpetuates the violence and the fearfulness. It separates us further. It drives wedges between human beings: Precisely the agenda of the terrorists: Moving more of us towards rampant mutual extremism.

It is obviously important that those who perpetrate, plot, and execute horrific acts of violence are removed from the public sphere forever. I trust police to do that. But what can I do?

I have done some soul-searching about this. And here is my personal plan to combat terrorism:

  • 1. I can acknowledge that acts of terror terrify me. It makes me feel vulnerable, afraid, and unsafe. It is an uncomfortable truth to come to terms with. I feel powerless. But as uncomfortable as that realization is, it is step one for me.
  • 2. Secondly, I can reach out in love and compassion to all who are indirectly affected, because we all lose a bit more of our innocence with each passing violent outburst. And this posting of mine is a desire to bond with you in our shared sadness and grief. We are all truly Parisians today. Just like they were all New Yorkers after 9/11.
  • 3. Thirdly, I commit to shut up! There is nothing gained by me resorting to verbal violence or blame in my responses. When extreme right-wing nuts killed hundreds of people in Oklahoma and Norway, it would make no sense to blame all Republicans – or all right-wing people – for the mindset of the attacker. Here it makes no sense to blame religion or entire population groups for the acts of extremists either.

The terrible truth is that order has broken down, disaster has struck, and people are dead. And no matter how much I might wish to remove those who look, or think about things, differently than I do, I cannot un-do what was done. I couldn’t in Norway in 2011, in Oklahoma, in New York, at Sandy Hook, or in Paris.

The more I seek to retreat behind my own picket fence of explanations, whether privately, politically, or in the name of God, I only further the sense of separation and fear around me.

And that is exactly what extremists on all sides want.

They want a world in which the battle lines are drawn. They want holy war. They want to destroy all commonality between human beings whether this camaraderie is represented in music, in government programs, in religious freedom, or in freedom of the press.

We are vulnerable to terrorism. We are fearful when acts of random, senseless, and unpredictable violence happen. And it is natural to be so. But to retreat to verbal violence and finger-pointing fuels the fire.

By comparison: Every day in the United States, 30 people die from drunk-driving accidents. This is another totally senseless act of violence.Our loved ones are statistically much more likely to die from such an accident. Each day in the United States, almost 90 people die in traffic accidents, and still we climb into our cars each day without a second thought.

And here comes the fourth -and crucial point to my personal plan:

  • 4. I will counter the terrorist agenda of injecting fear into my heart by continuing my life defiantly – by not letting them win by me changing who I am, or how I think. I will not let them succeed in making me hateful and distrusting of others for no good reason.

It goes without say that I obviously want to request our politicians insist on adequately funding police and other detective work that to some degree can prevent future events. And each of us can, and in my opinion should, embrace a personal astute sense of vigilance – to report truly suspicious activities whether they are in schools, in our neighborhoods, or when drunks get in cars.

But there is no way to restore our innocence.

There is, on the other hand, a way for each of us to walk boldly and with determination through our common existence with an acceptance that bad things happen – also to innocent people. But that realization should not make us stay at home, or blame others who had nothing to do with it.

I vow to stop my part in the continuation of the waves of terror:

The terror tsunami stops here. I will not create further hate. I sit here feeling immense sadness for the victims. And I honor the memory of each person suffering a senseless death, whether it is by domestic violence, traffic death, drunk-driving, terrorism, hunger, or disease, by a renewed commitment to do onto others as I want them to do onto me.



83 thoughts on “Four Personal Commitments to Combat Terrorism”

  1. It’s weird to write this to you….. I really enjoyed reading your post. So true and going to my heart. Thank you. When Walter is in Carré Amsterdam I really hope to meet him in a more peaceful and hopeful world then these days

    1. Thanks Berry for your comment. I appreciate the sentiment, and let’s both, as Gandhi said, continue our work to be the change we wish to find in our world.

    1. Finn-Ero Bustadmo has been amazing to us – and the Norwegians in general. We are so appreciative of all the beauty we encounter in Norway – and in many other countries as well. xoxo

  2. Thank you for writting all this down.
    The four points of your personal goal, are the same of how I think about it, only I did not know how to write it down. Thank you for that.

  3. Thank you for your great insight, Marie. For years we have been enjoying Walter’s music and sharing it with friends. Now I will share your words of wisdom with them. Peace.

  4. I love this post Marie! We can’t recycle the revenge anymore. Yes, there are bad men but, we cannot overcome darkness with more darkness. Jesus showed us a way of suffering and non violence all the way to death and then conquered it! “Blessed are those who mourn” Praying for peace and mercy in this world and especially for Paris right now! Thanks for your post!

    1. Thank you so much, Josh. “Recycle revenge” – what a great way to put it! And yes, light is a fragile commodity, but we don’t get it by furthering the darkness. I agree wholeheartedly.

  5. Fantastisk skrevet Marie, jeg er 100% enig i alle dine betragtninger og vise ord❤️
    Jeg tillader mig at dele dette på min Facebook side:)

    Sluttelig, jeg var i Amager bio i Onsdags, vil du ikke hilse Walther og sige at det var den bedste koncert jeg har overværet i 25år!!! Simpelthen så overvældende en oplevelse at gense Walther så ovenpå, når man tænker på hvad han/i alle har været igennem !

    Kærlig hilsen Peter

  6. That’s really an inspirational point of view. As humans we naturally react to tragedies with anger and hate but yes that empowers and gives ultimate victory to terrorists and the first reaction isn’t that realisation. So to read your post was a breath of fresh air. I’m a lover of the blues, a blues guitarist myself…and a long time fan of Walter Trout and was very elated to know he survived his recent health issues. Maybe someday i can meet him in a terror free mind set… Thanks for sharing your open mind.

    1. Thank you so much William. I really appreciate to hear your vantage point as well. And you are so right: Our instincts are not always “right.” What makes us human is precisely our ability to reason for the common good of all.

    1. Thank you Scott…. Yes, moral is a good word for what we do, when we do not allow our gut-reaction to be the only guide post in our behavior… thanks for that!

  7. Rigtig godt skrevet Marie ….vi må beholde vores frihed, kærlighed og håb , stoppe reaktionerne på angsten så de rette myndigheder kan koncentrere sig om at tage hånd om terrorister og ikke bruge tid på fnidder og konflikter i den almindelige befolkning. Kærligst Søs

    1. Ja, det er nemlig lige det! Og der kan vi jo godt have indflydelse paa vores egen skaebne… noget vi ofte glemmer, naar vi proever at finde skyld ved andre, der ikke har noget med sagen at goere.

    1. Thank you Paul. The world is mad if we let it. I truly believe we hold the key to creating a better world in the micro. If enough of us remember that – the macro will follow.

  8. This is the best article on combating terrorism I have read so far. Your 4 steps have been flowing around inside my head for some time but I could not focus on them through my anger. Now I can. Thank you so much. PS: I love Walter and Jon’s music and enjoyed them in Grand Rapids MI over the past two years.

    1. So happy to hear this, Jim! And I so understand the anger… Of course we are angry. But we are also more than our anger. That is what sets us apart from those who kill innocents. And that is what each of us can take with us: that we can choose a response that effectively takes the power away from the terrorists.

  9. Great sentiments eloquently expressed, Marie! I really believe that income and social inequality directly contribute to the desperation that fuels these groups. We, as collective humanity must take individual steps to create a more fair and just society. Thanks for your brilliant insight, Marie!

    1. Yes, I agree. It is a complex issue. Treating each other with dignity socially, psychologically, culturally, and economically is hugely important. We certainly have our work cut out for us. And it is a team effort as well as a personal commitment to fairness in all things.

  10. Well said, it is hard to be brave and stand up when faced with such fear – innocents have died and innocents are being blamed alongside those who committed these arocities – but you are so right this is what we have to do – thank you

    1. Thank you Debs. I do think stepping back from our initial desire to lash out benefits us all. And it is really the most efficient way to not give those seeking terror as a means of communication what they want.

    1. Hi Mick, it is a place I go to after I acknowledge my fears. The journey through Walter’s illness taught me that fearful reaction only makes me desperate.

  11. You can cry if you want to is running around my brain well said Marie so lucky to have tickets to see Walter in Holmfirth Yorkshire UK just about worn out Battle Scars (if u can)my brother a most excellent friend and myself saw Walter at the Leadmill over twenty years ago , moved away and irony we’ve all got to Walters gig not spoken in years, most excellent

  12. Marie I feel that I know you after the last 2 years, reading your updates on Walter, so I as always want to share my heart .
    I believe that we all see this very different, even on a male and female perspective. I feel what I just read came from your maternal instincts of protecting your family. I also feel quite different as a man and my instincts to protect myself and my concern for our country.
    I feel strongly that God created borders to protect us from foreign people and cultures ,that are in complete opposition of our way of life. Borders can be found throughout our lives in many areas for our own good.When I would share Jesus in jails and rehabs , I also shared about how God protects us by borders. Look at the borders of good and bad , or a line on the road protecting us , as we drive.
    I strongly feel the need for truth and that in our present lives many people are being deceived.
    So much can and should be shared to stop this killing of innocent people…

    May God continue to protect and bless the Trouts

    1. Thanks Steve. I am sure there are differences in how men and women interpret what happens. Our interpretations color much of what we see in the world including concern for our country and how to best move forward. Whether my posting is written from a maternal instinct – who knows. I can guarantee you that my initial maternal instinct was to lash out and find fault. And I wonder if much can’t be accomplished if we instead of wanting to go with that kind of gut-level reactivity, instead counter the forces that terrorists seek to unleash by not giving them more of what they want.

  13. Very well put Marie! It is our own innate fear that spawns hatred, prejudice, and violence. To accept fear as a component of who we are, it allows us to dismiss that hatred, prejudice, and violence as an inappropriate response to an uncomfortable moment, embracing instead compassion, empathy, and understanding.

    1. Yes, well put. And at the same time, we walk aware, vigilant, and observant. I am not a proponent of a laissez-faire attitude that doesn’t consider this a serious problem. There is no reason however for us to perpetuate the problem by adding more hate to the equation. Hatred and violence are the evil stepchildren of fear and prejudice. We do not rid ourselves of them by fueling their fires.

  14. Marie,
    Civilians are considered to be collateral in the grand scheme of things in my former profession.
    I am a former Special Operations person that was / is an expendable asset in the very same scheme of things. Some of us my dear are in the thick of it, fighting everyday against the worst human beings this planet has to offer. Most of us are on WATCH all the time, to not be just reactive to Terror acts, but have successfully, in a proactive manner, thwarted thousands of attempts to date on our way of life, here and abroad with the help of our allies in Europe.

    Take comfort in knowing that although there are those single independent individuals seeking a way to harm the populus out there, you should be made aware that there is a net of protection you are under here in the States. Not as much outside of our borders unfortunately, due to the growing sympathy and support these dangerous people are getting from Anti-American Organizations that we Americans give money to though buying resources needed for everyday life here in the States, such as petroleum.

    There is a very dangerous social climate erupting in our society that allows this very evil entity to take hold, and become an incredibly troublesome force to combat, but not impossible. It’s is not the act of terror that is worrisome to us out in this vortex of horror. It is the civilian collateral being just that, and nothing but numbers counted as a tragedy, which like in the recent past, used for political and media gain to push forward their agenda which is mostly crying for the downfall of it’s own belief’s, traditions, and heritage. We have Americans joining forces with these sadistic groups such as isis and other violent islamic radical groups to attack their own U.S. homeland.

    What I would say to anyone who shares your same concerns about fear and terror is keep the conversation going and stay vigilant in helping others realize and understand that we all play a part in keeping this world safe from anyone who, as the cowards they are, would try to destroy. Go about your day Marie with your head held high and do not fear and do not fall for the left wing and right wing false speech. Or be divided by anything (Race, Political views,Religion,etc.) that does not create the strong backbone we need as a people.

    These death bringers see weakness in us, and along with the help of our bickering and whining makes them bolder, and stronger in their pursuit to inflict pain. We must unite and be joined at the elbows like a chain (figuratively). Can that happen in our lifetime? Can we fight the good fight? Can we be a strong, and proud people again? I believe it to be true. Know your heart. Know your what your limits are, Know what you truly believe in, and stand up and fight for your children’s, children’s, future to be terror free. It can be done. The authorities alone can’t do it all. The question now is, will you be just the collateral or the WATCH? Peace to you and yours.

    Regards, Watchdog01

    1. Hi Watchdog01, yes at this point political and religious pandering serves to distract us so we continuously take our eyes off the ball, feel powerless, helpless, and desperate. I very much appreciate your long comment, and I know that there are no easy solutions to this problem. Finding the unity as a people to stay strong takes much more than easy talking points and ready-made solutions. It requires each of us to find backbone within so we can join with others who also are willing to look beyond the easy answers and quick-fix solutions. This is, as you say, a global problem and it requires both individual and collective determination. This is – in my interpretation – a very different kind of vigilance and courage than the one that those with “all the answers” typically suggest.

  15. Your writing is just awesome! You nailed every thought I’ve had about extremism and what to do about it. I would never be able to put these thoughts on paper though. But you sure did! I thank you profusely for doing such a great job of it!

    1. Thank you Lee. I am so very glad the thoughts resonate, because ultimately it is about empowering ourselves and others to think independently, act wisely, and allow our feelings to inform us, but not rule our lives.

  16. Hi Marie, Thank you for your wonderful perspective. I feel very similar and certainly try to do my part in not perpetuating the divisiveness and other negative sentiment.
    (just one last note, I read the last paragraph and I believe you meant vow, not wow, correct? Just checking)
    Again, I appreciate your article and intend to share it.

  17. Great article with some clear thinking in a very confusing time.Hate is such a tempting easy backfiring emotion that spreads like a forest fire..self control,careful thinking and compassion are so important in these times…and writing music and art for venting inspiration and healing….give Walter my best.His and your journey is such inspiration.Maybe someday we will jam again.he is a musical force of positivity….

  18. you have expressed the essence of Buddhist teachings on compassion in a way that all people can relate to. Those who hate are full of fear and suffering and deserve our compassion.

  19. Steps 1-4 Eradicate greed and corruption and learn to share and respect resources and people of all races and religions. Its a long term answer, however its the only one that will work. Anything else is just applying dressings.

    1. yes, great. I agree. Can you personally achieve those things? While people of like mind collectively push to achieve a more fair world with a more equitable distribution of resources, individually we must have a plan as well. Right?

  20. I like what you have to say but find the graphic with the gun countadictory. Was it just used for the shock value/to attract attention?

    1. I have had others say that as well. In all honesty, I was looking for a graphic that said “Paris” and “terrorism.” The only one I could find in the database of images I use, was this one, and I decided it might catch the attention and peak the curiosity – maybe also among people, who do not typically read this kind of pieces. It might not be an ideal graphic, but I am very careful about copyright and ran out of time to keep looking.

  21. Marie,

    I am sad listening to you speak of the fears you face due to all the actions around you and the world. I agree that there are dramatic reasons to fear many things, but I think you are letting the fear consume you. There will always be things in life that can happen unexpectedly, as random as lighting a grill for a cookout and having it explode in your face, or as rational as fear of flying after hearing of a few recent plane crashes.

    I think it is great that you have published this to help others, for many it will be helpful and provide comfort.

    For me, I fear none of these things that we have been inundated with by media sources on a daily basis. I fear them not because I know that the fear is not rational, and that the fear for most is created by the media to promote their respective products for profit. So for my part, and hopefully many others that would do the same, I will just go on with life and know that the fear is a product of an outside force that is actually created to make someone a profit.

  22. I feel like you do, I do hope and pray for a resolution to all this strife in my World today. Thank you for saying what a lot of us are truly thinking and feeling. Peace. Beafab.

  23. My son recently played in Paris, along with friends, and I know people who were in the Bataclan Friday night. I feel the same fear, yet understand that we cannot let it consume us, nor let the anger consume us or we play into the hands of the terrorists.

    Thank you for such wise words, Marie. I hope to see Walter again sometime in the Mississippi Valley!

    1. Thank you, Roberta. Yes, we have a responsibility to not have them change who we are and become gut-level reactive back. We need to encourage international coalitions to avoid future incidents and work to work against forces of such darkness by showing the way. I do know violence creates more violence. I also know there are no easy solutions. But we can do what we can do. And that is to stay rational. I appreciate your comment.

  24. You are the truest voice of reason that i have heard in a long time. I thought Walter was a great writer of songs, i see where some of his inspiration and will to live come from and for whom when i read this article. Thank you for sharing, God Bless You (whichever one you seek, to me they are all the same, thats just me.) Again thank you and peace to you and yours. P.S. tell Walter to keep rockin and i will watch for him up in Seattle. All My Very Best, Bryan Schnell

  25. Hej Marie. Det er vældig godt skrevet, jeg tror de fleste danskere er helt enig med dig. Vi kunne desværre ikke være med i Amager bio ( vi var med ved koncerten i Holstebro for ca 25 år siden hvor du og walter traf hinanden) men vores datter og svigersøn var der (vi gav dem billetterne) og de siger at walter var meget veloplagt og helt på toppen. Vi er fulde af beundring for at han kan holde til det hårde turneliv. Kærligt Erik og Susanne

  26. The only way to fight darkness is with light… thank you Marie for your words and thanks to Walter for his music, both of which are light in the darkness. More darkness only begets more suffering.

    Unfortunately, there are those that ONLY want to retaliate,,, which I do understand, as that is my first desire also. And while some of such actions may be positive, the overwhelming need to show better way via education and enrichment should be primary. We must reach to improve the lives of those that are in need, and fight to help them, to help minimize the desire for them to be radicalized.

    We all have different and varied preferences and desires and believes… its a shame that we can’t encourage and appreciate and find wonder in these diversities, instead of hatred and ignorance.

  27. Sorry but there was no media around in 1940 when the Nazis did what they did. Or in the 1300 when Christians did what they did… Ignoring them will not make them stop. We got rid of the Nazis, we got rid of the Christianity horrible crimes, we will get rid of Isis.On way or another . Not by ignoring them.

  28. Beautifully stated, Marie. I feel very much the same. There is, after all, only love or fear.
    I would like to add that I followed your daily blog throughout Walter’s health crisis and found them to be insightful and beautifully written. I am so glad that he is better and once again playing the blues. We hope to see him again very soon.

  29. What the jihadis have done is an act of war – and regrettably you cannot negotiate with drug-induced psychopaths who are willing to commit suicide – but they WILL be defeated …..Be not afraid – ‘Your Fear is Their Power’ – your no. 4 resolution is common sense. Best wishes to Walter & son for continued safety whilst they bring joy and pleasure through their music ….

    4. I will counter the terrorist agenda of injecting fear into my heart by continuing my life defiantly – by not letting them win by me changing who I am, or how I think. I will not let them succeed in making me hateful and distrusting of others for no good reason.

    1. Common sense is good. And I am not negotiating with any terrorists, no. I am talking about how – as a lay person – to deal with the issue and not playing into their playbook.

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"We are more alike than we are different. This is the story of the blues."