This will be a very long contribution, even by breaking it up in four
parts. Hit the ESC should the length hinder you. Painting a rich picture
on terrorism may seem to be madness to some of you, but I have a definite
purpose with it. Such a landscape will help you to gain a sense of
In the Topic "Condolences" I conveyed our compassion to all who have
suffered tragic losses or injuries in the terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Centre and the Pentagon. I did not try to rationalise anything,
except for writing:
. However, humankind is different from all
. other animal species because most of its
. behaviours follow from its thinking. We
. all beg you to think deeply before you act
. because your thoughts rather than your acts
. in this profound issue will determine the
. future of humankind.
I included it as a handle for connecting to this contribution.
The sooner we begin to think seriously on terrorism, the better for the
future of our world. I know by experience that a mind shattering event
like 11 September makes it very difficult not to go back and back again
trying to make sense out of the experience itself. Why, why, why? However,
even in a gruesome event like this, understanding comes only by linking
this experience with past experiences. The more the agony, the slower the
Before we begin, I beg you all to keep a responsible LO-dialogue on this
contentious topic. The word dialogue may tell us how. It comes from the
Greek "dia-"=through and "logos"=word. The word "logos" was also used for
many other meanings like account, doctrine, message, reason, study and
treatise. That is why we use, for example, the name biology when we refer
to the study="logos" of life="bios".
The word "logos" was even used in the deep sense of an "enquiring
thought" ("zeeteo noesis"). In this sense the beginning of the gospel
according to the apostle John may also be translated into:
. In the beginning was the enquiring thought,
. and the enquiring thought was with God and
. the enquiring thought was God. All things
. were created by the enquiring thought ....
In other words, when we begin to think about our thoughts to
understand how they influence our creativity, we enter the realm of
the divine within us. Let us then respect this divine in each other
rather than judging someone to be possessed by a demon.
Judgement will only freeze our learning. I beg you in your tragic
loss for enquiring thoughts ("logoi").
I myself did not suffer from any direct terrorist attack. Thus please
forgive me should I through lack of direct experience not show in this
contribution enough compassion for the victims of terrorism. However, for
most of my life terrorism was so close to me that I just had to think
about it. It is in this sense of someone continually reminded of terrorism
that I write to you.
Part 1: My pilgrimage to become free from fear.
I was still in primary school when I began to learn of the colonial powers
beginning to withdraw from their African colonies. South Africa was then
some dozen years into the era of apartheid. In those days South Africans
had only newspapers and radios (longwave and shortwave) to inform them. I
still remember how as a child I pressed my ear close to the little speaker
to hear better the news reports on Uhuru -- obtaining freedom by using
guerilla tactics. It all was frightening to me.
As a teenager I learned of hell breaking lose in Kenya and the Congo.
Again I listened to most disturbing reports on the radio. The word Mau-Mau
like the word Uhuru left cold fear in our hearts. By then I could also
read the newspapers fluently. The reports with photos filled us with
horror that humans could do such things. As may be expected, the
politicians also used this opportunity to promise voters that as long as
they put their crosses next to apartheid, this will never happen in our
But in my last years at school it did happen in our country under the name
Poqo. The Poqo began to do in South Africa what the Mau-Mau did in Kenya.
The killing and mutilation of humans and animals as well as the
destruction of property were terrible. It was then when I became the first
time aware of the word terrorism to describe these despicable deeds. I
also became aware the first time how politicians try to gain political
power by exploiting the fear of the public.
Terrorism increased while I was at university learning to become a
scientist. Our government was forced into taking increasingly security
measures by promulgating draconic laws. It seemed to me that most people
condoned such laws. I was not wise enough. Fortunately, in those days the
terrorists often used ancient war tools like knives, axes and spears.
Furthermore, their victims were usually individuals or small groups. So we
seldom thought of terrorism as something which may affect us directly. We
were not wise enough.
This low level insurgence began to change as I began with my research
career. The use of bombs and landmines by terrorists to kill more people
became common. It worried me that there were people who assisted them with
money and modern technology. How could people take sides with terrorists?
Who were those people? Our security police could not cope with all the
terrorism any more. Private individuals and organisations also had to take
security precautions. Terrorism became ominous.
It was also in those days that I became intensely aware that most
politicians (from all parties) as well as the terrorists were actually
trying to control us through our fears. Soon after my Christian rebirth it
struck me how the apostle John wrote in Revelations that those having fear
will not enter the New Jerusalem. His warning was exactly opposite to what
the terrorists and politicians were doing. My pilgrimage against fear had
begun. But I did not know at all where I had to go to.
Then I took up teaching because of realising what my calling was. Within
six months I learned a most valuable lesson from my mentor uncle Philip.
In some classes there would be a pupil or two who could be described as
"terrorists". They taxed me as well as my fellow teachers to the hilt. My
mentor pointed out to me that I tried to control them with fear, unlike
the way I treated my other pupils with love. He advised me to love also
them unconditionally so as to find out why they behaved like terrorists. I
felt very ashamed that I was acting like a terrorist without being aware
Next came a twist which I found illogical in those days. Not only was the
western world denouncing apartheid increasingly, but it also sheltered and
supported the very terrorists who fought against apartheid. By then I had
serious doubts on apartheid as the goal for establishing peace between the
peoples of South Africa. However, I became even more aware that the goal
(getting rid of apartheid) does not sanctify the means (using terrorism).
I still could accept that the communistic and Islamitic countries
sheltered and assisted the terrorists. I knew no better. But I was
confused by the fact that even the western countries did so too. I
believed that western countries stood for civilised values such as
democracy, peace and freedom. How could they use double standards?
Terrorists destroy peace to invoke fear. I reckoned that by letting snakes
(terrorists) live in one's house, one will eventually have to efend
oneself against them.
Leaders of the apartheid government and their opinion formers also began
to stress this "double standards" issue. They used it for justifying that
apartheid was a God given ideology which we have to follow without
understanding why since God does not have double standards. But whenever
somebody tells me that I must follow without enquiring thoughts ("logoi"),
my back stiffens. I got the gut feeling that there is something else going
on than "double standards".
It was as if there were a simpler standard and a complexer standard.
Western countries used the simpler standard to judge apartheid in South
Africa. This simpler standard had no recognition of terrorism unless it
was felt self. Western countries ought to have used the complexer standard
to find answers to both apartheid and terrorism. But what was this
I began to study the constitutions of western countries to get a clue to
it. I thought that they were simply not following their constitutions. But
these studies brought no light. I began to study books on philosophy and
psychology on this issue. But even they brought no light. Yet the "double
standards" seemed to be an illusion -- but of what? By that time the
western world was putting serious pressures on us through sanctions. It
seemed to me that they wanted white South Africans to give up apartheid by
their fear for becoming poor through sanctions. Why do they want to
control us through our fears? Who were the terrorists -- those blasting
bombs, those pushing an ideology or those applying sanctions?
I even became sensitive to some preachers who tried to control their
churches by preaching them into fear. I became sensitive to some
academical institutions using fear for failure to get more out of their
personnel in teaching and research. I became sensitive to the communist
countries governing their peoples through fear. I became sensitive to the
cold war between the west and the east boosting their economies through
fear. Terrorists, if they can be associated with fear, seemed to be
operating everywhere. There was no difference for me in killing a person's
body with a bomb or a person's spirit with fear.
In all of this fear based strategies I also had to struggle not to give in
self, but to free myself increasingly from fear. I often became aware that
I take two steps forwards by taking one step backwards. Fear had a
mysterious power which I myself could not deal with effectively. Fear
seemed to be my nemesis. But exploring the deserts did much to heal me.
Fear caused by humans and "caution+respect" for the potentially dangerous
in nature are two different things. In my mother tongue Afrikaans we have
two different distinguishing words: "vrees"=fear and
Meanwhile I discovered that LEP (Law of Entropy Production) also works in
the mental realm and not only the material realm of reality. Yet I could
not solve the mystery. I discovered afterwards the 7Es (seven
essentialities of creativity) as the second bridge between the physical
and spiritual world. But I still could not see light. I even became aware
that not only entropy has material and mental complements, but also free
energy. But the mystery stayed in darkness. Only after I had discovered
the Digestor it began to dawn on me why fear has such a mysterious power.
Fear and complexity are closely related.
Meanwhile the biggest bomb ever went off in Pretoria -- the Church Street
car bomb. On scale it was somewhat less than the Oklahoma bomb. But it was
to us as what the catastrophe on 11 September is now to you. Perhaps as a
result of it, some white people began to talk with members of the banned
ANC in the countries from where they were launching their terrorist
attacks. Accusations that these whites were in cahoots with the terrorists
were flung around. But they insisted that the time had come to go beyond
fighting fire with fire.
Strange rumours began to surface that Nelson Mandela might become
released. Pres Botha said this can happen provided Mandela denounces
violence. Because of a stroke and subsequent political intrigues, De Klerk
took over from Botha. Finally De Klerk announced that the ANC and PAC will
be unbanned, Mandela and other political prisoners will be released and
that talks will be held to ensure a peaceful transition to a non-apartheid
The fear among whites was stirred into a frenzy. Thousands began to
emigrate to other predominant white countries. Many of those staying
behind began to pot up food, medicine, etc. and to barricade their houses.
Many black people also began to fear anarchy. The nation began to pray as
never before for a peaceful transition. I myself had no fear anymore, but
rather became most curious. I tried to observe how people from all sides
dealt with their fears in the face of the "transition" (paradigm shift)
which had to come. I found it most extraordinary that despite their fears,
people began to work spontaneously for this paradigm shift.
On the election day for the non-racial government there were immense
security measures. However, an incredible calm, sober and quiet atmosphere
was to be seen at the many thousands of voting stations. I asked many
whites, coloureds and blacks only one question: "Are you afraid?" They all
said yes, but some added bravely "We have to do it". For one day in our
country's history, fear did not control its people, but a sense of urgency
I felt a great joy welling up in me. The fear mongers and fear lords will
have to find different tactics. Their old tactics will not work any more.
Whether they are white or black, their schemes were no match for what our
nation was experiencing. I took my dear wife's hand in the que as we were
moving ever so slowly towards the poll and said to her: "Do not worry,
something extraordinary is happening." Humans were quiet, but every bird
was singing its song. It was eerie. That day had a unique brightness and
Terrorism was gone (except for recent incidents involving terrorists
calling themselves Pagad as well as some unknown terrorists who have
killed more than a thousand white farmers). But then a new ugly face began
to show itself. As a result of sanctions and disinvestment by western
countries with the USA as the leader, unemployment rose drastically in our
country. They promised to reinvest in South Africa after the dismantling
of apartheid. But this did not happened.
Consequently many of the jobless took to crime, often with violence and
homicide. This gave the promisers of reinvestment the reason to disinvest
even further. White people with expertise began to emigrate by their
hundreds of thousands. White people were replaced by black people in their
jobs as a result of the policy Affirmative Action. Job incompetency and
corruption rose sharply and so did violent crimes even further.
As a result of these violent crimes people in South Africa today live with
far more "ontsag" than during the days of apartheid. They also have to
take far more security measures. It is not nice. However, one thing is far
less than during the days of apartheid -- organisations of society like
the state, church and business controlling people through fear for hurt.
It is ordinary crime which now hurts people and fills them with "ontsag".
Crime is now one of the biggest problems which our country has to solve.
In Part 2 we will begin to look deeper into terrorism itself by looking
how apartheid caused terrorism.
I pray for those who want to understand terrorism.
With care and best wishes,
At de Lange <email@example.com> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa
Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <Richard@Karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>
"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.