What Can I do?

February 6, 2008 by Overtly American

An article posted on Citizen Warrior

Halt Terrorism — The Top Seven Things a Citizen Can Do


MUCH OF THE TASK of fighting terrorism is done by governments, security agencies, and the military. But there are practical things an ordinary citizen can do to make a significant difference in defeating terrorism. If you doubt it is even possible to defeat terrorism, you need to read this. But if you’re ready to do something about it, here are CitizenWarrior.com’s top seven ways a citizen can help halt terrorism. Each principle links to an article about it.

1. Share DVDs with your friends. This may be the most useful thing you can do. It is such a simple and natural thing to say something like, “I saw a really interesting film last night.” And then talk about one of the most interesting or surprising things in the film. When the person you’re talking to seems interested, you can say, “I own it on DVD. Would you like to borrow it?” This is a great way to get valuable information into the heads of your teammates (the other members of your country). The ideas in your teammates heads has a significant impact on how successfully we collectively fight terrorism. Go to the link above for our suggested DVDs to share.

2. Be observant and report suspicious activities. First you need to learn what kinds of things you should be on the lookout for. Then you can use your eyes and ears as you go about your daily activities. If you see someone in a car looking at the blueprints of a building, for example, and taking photographs of it, you can simply call 911. An officer can come out and question the person. If they are there for a legitimate purpose, no harm has been done. If they are not, it may be the beginning of shutting down a terrorist plot. If you know what to look for, being observant doesn’t mean being paranoid. Most activities are not suspicious. But a few specific kinds of activities are. Follow the link above to find out what those are, and then…be observant.

3. Choke off terrorists’ main source of money. Although terrorists have cells within democratic countries, they rely on financial support from terrorist-sponsoring countries. And almost all terrorists are trained in such a country. Four have been identified with certainty: Iran, Syria, Sudan, and North Korea. A company called DivestTerror.org has found a way to cut off a major source of support for those countries, which will force those governments to choose between supporting terrorism or being economically viable.

4. Steer conversations to the topic of terrorism. And then, of course, share what you know. Improve your ability to start casual conversations and gently open those conversations to the topic of terrorism, and improve your ability to do it in a way that prevents them from being turned off by it. Terrorism can be an ugly and scary subject if not approached in the right way. Influencing the opinions is a vital task you can do to fight terrorism. Ideas and opinions are the driving force behind world events. You can change someone’s opinion, but you must first be talking about terrorism. Most people don’t know any more about terrorism than what they see on the news, and that mostly consists of confusing, helplessness-inducing sound bites. You know things about terrorism that can help mobilize your sphere of influence to be a force for good in the world. But in order to do that, you’ll need to begin conversations, and steer them, and that’s a skill that takes know-how and practice. Follow the link above and begin today.

5. Learn more about influencing people. Once you have someone in a conversation, how can you change their opinions? How can you successfully persuade them? This is also a skill you can improve with know-how and practice. In fact, your skill can win people to a new way of thinking. But a lack of skill can entrench them more solidly in their old way of thinking. Skill is all-important, and it can be greatly improved, no matter how good you are already. Just as marksmanship is a vital skill to an infantryman, and navigation skills are essential to the captain of a ship, skill with people is all-important for a citizen warrior.

6. When you find a good article online, share it. This is one of the easiest ways to make a difference. If you do it well, you can enhance the impact of what you share. Doing it well means being sparing in what you send (rather than sending lots of stuff indiscriminately), and giving your personal impression of the article along with a link to the article itself. And you can probably make the biggest difference by trying to match the article with the person. In other words, if your friend is a sandal-wearing peace activist, sending an article by an outspoken redneck would fail to persuade. Match the article to the person for maximum influence. Help ease her or him into a new way of seeing.

7. Help people see the URL haltterrorism.com. The domain name goes to the article you’re reading now. Buy a haltterrorism.com t-shirt and wear it. Add haltterrorism.com to your email signature. Print the domain address on business cards and post them on bulletin boards. Get a bumper sticker with the address on it. Not everyone is interested in terrorism, but those who are will be curious when the see the URL, and you’ve just sent them to a good resource.

It goes without saying, of course, that you’ll keep learning about terrorism, and you’ll learn especially well anything you’d like to teach to others. Listening to an audiobook again and again in your car is an excellent way to really learn something well.

Not all books are created equal. When you find a really good one, get it in an audio format and listen to it while you drive. When you share information or perspectives with someone, you have a good opportunity to really illuminate the subject for them. If you have only a vague understanding of something you read only once, you’ll find it hard to be lucid or convincing, and you’ll fail to persuade. Part of persuasion is knowing what you’re talking about. The other part is skill with people.

You want to do something about terrorism. You want to halt the terrorists in their tracks. Excellent! Choose one of the seven ideas above — the one that appeals to you the most at the moment — and do it. On behalf of the rest of your teammates, I thank you for your intention and effort.

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