For some, nationalism can feel like all they have. Others turn to a gang, revenge, or a twisted form of Islam. None of this, of course, remotely excuses invasions, gang violence, massacres or terrorism. But it may be a warning that we can't just flatten the world. We also have to find ways to fill it up.
Long term, ISIS and the lure of other violent extremism in Islam and other religions will only be stopped if we are all invested in reaching out to young people. We have to be available to listen to their concerns, empathize with their sense of alienation, and help them find constructive ways to engage societal injustice. It is all of our responsibility to empower this generation with the knowledge and support they need to find a meaningful life and a positive identity that they can embrace and be proud of. ISIS and other radical groups are deadly serious about reaching out to young people with their skewed version of meaning that leads to death and destruction. Are we just as serious in reaching out to offer meaning that results in affirming life and creating a better world?
Through my work with thousands of patients over the years, I have discovered that illness can serve as a catalyst for a new and improved life, if the situation is approached mindfully. Someone with heart disease, for example, can use the illness as an opportunity to get into and enjoy moving her body.