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Patricia DeGennaro Headshot

My New Year's Resolution: No to Nicking Knickers

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Remember when your mother told you to put on clean underwear when you travel? Well my advice is to just 'forgettaboutit" and take the Brittney Spears route -- go without. Thanks to twenty-three year old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, not only will your water bottle be confiscated at all airports around the world, but, as the Brits would say, your knickers will be nicked as well.

Based on Abdulmutallab's background and upbringing, no one can understand why he took it upon himself to wage deadly jihad. Never mind that he was young, impressionable, and, more importantly, feeling abandoned. Marginalization is the number one reason young men (and some women) join terrorist groups. They feel they do not belong in society, have no voice or future and lack the ability to do anything about their fate or the injustices in the world.

Every email that was unearthed in his database supports this fact. No one knows what may have stopped him from trying to commit this crime, but one thing is for sure - had he been able to reach out to someone more positive than Anwar al-Awlaki the extremist Yemeni cleric, his vain attempt to die and bring a plane load of people with him may have been nothing more than a bad dream.

Sitting alone in his room, this innocent looking young man watched as his one mentor and friend, albeit a megalomaniac, was bombed by US planes into oblivion. While the West cheered another Al Qaeda "victory," he mourned his perceived loss - alone.

This does not justify his actions, but what is justifying ours? These continued bombardments of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Pakistan and Yemen are obviously not giving us the peace and security we crave. In fact, the result is to the contrary. We need to find another way to stop what seems to be a global insurgency waged by people who feel not only invisible, but also powerless in the current world system.

In their minds they cannot change their lives and, by the looks of things, they are right. Because they have not armies or large weapons, they us a life, with seemingly little meaning, to serve as a solution to misguided delusions. The bottom line here is that people, yes people - Muslim, Christian, Jews and others - are being recklessly used in the great game of this wayward grab for domination that one only finds in a Superman movie.

Whether you're using radioactive bombs or human ones, the means do not justify the ends. Violence begets nothing but more violence. They bomb us, we bomb them. Everyone is growing angry and hungry for more and more revenge. Unfortunately, the world cannot seem to end this gruesome destiny.

Yemen is the next to receive the brunt of this ego induced and age old unproductive cycle of destruction by bomb. Ironically, it will get its own deadly tools to assist in the aggressors cause. Yemen, who has reached the status of a country that cannot feed its people, is not eligible for food, but is a noteworthy recipient of U.S. weapons, which it can freely use on its impoverished people.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, and countless others are also receiving military support to do the same despite the fact that large numbers of their populations are destitute and need work not weapons. None of that matters now, however, because we have all lost our minds preferring to kill dozens, including our own, to get but a few "enemies."

Not to worry though, The New York Times tells us, "By UN calculations, the number of deaths that could be clearly linked to NATO[/US] forces has dropped significantly, from 38 per cent last year to 22 per cent this year. The Taliban, meanwhile, caused 68 per cent of deaths ... three times that of NATO[/US]." This is supposed to make us all feel better about death and war. NATO and its partners including the US are bad, but not as bad as they are! Reminds me of an argument I had with my sister -- when I was two.

When I look at the photos of Abdulmutallab, my heart sinks. Those emails retrieved by intelligence agents tell me our society lost this bright young man to twisted criminals that take life; Adulmutallab's life in this case, by manipulation for their own ill defined means.

For our part, we failed to give him a safe option or another venue to vent. No doubt since our moral authority has also been lost by the misuse of power through acts of torture and use of deadly weapons on innocent people, he felt he could not trust anyone in the West.

In atonement, it is our duty to address the roots causes of these failures. Learning why this young man turned to violence, taking responsibility for our part and working to disarm and mitigate violence are our tasks. Finding ways to create a non-hostile world is our duty.

Changing the dynamics of global interaction with new ways and ideas may not be easy. If you want easy, throw your water in the trash and take off your underwear.

Those in favor of keeping their underwear repeat after me: "My New Year's resolution is to say NO to nicking knickers and YES to embracing global solutions other than war and violence. "