The news are full of tragic mishaps, violence and sadness. Many people believe that the world today is worse when it isn’t. Mortality is way down, we have fewer wars with fewer casualties, illiteracy is going down and access to clean water and healthy food is becoming better. We just don’t know because that’s not news, it’s boring.
So in an attempt to be different, I’d like to tell you about a hero. Someone not afraid to talk to terrorists – at least not enough to not talk to them. This man is Armin Köhli.
He’s disabled – both his lower legs are missing. And like many of his kind, he’s extraordinary in some way: He makes the world a better place. Not only by giving an example or thinking about it, he actually does. How?
He talks to terrorists.
Sounds stupid? Maybe. But I can’t fail to notice that the “War on Terror” isn’t such a huge success so far. A lot of people died, a lot of money was spent, a lot of ammunition was fired. The situation in the Near East has changed but to the better? Not according to the news I see every evening. If it was funny, I’d say Facebook had more of an impact on the situation.
But this isn’t about failures, this is about success. So Armin talks to the “bad guys”. Does he threaten them? No. Buy them? Nope. Arrest them? Not at all. So what does he do?
He asks questions. Like this one: What can you do to improve the situation for the civilians in your area?
No threat, accusation or guilt.
I believe that a terrorist is a person who has (or thinks he has) been mistreated. Basically, they want justice – sounds familiar. Not many bad people are born, most are made by abusing them, torturing them, killing their loved ones and denying them any kind of retaliation. In the western world, we don’t have to car bomb because we have a justice system. We can sue. We can complain.
It’s silly to approach a terrorist and say: “Stand down, you’re a criminal.” If your brother was killed, no one cared, and then the police came to arrest you, because you just wouldn’t stop complaining, what would you do?
But if they have been the victim of injustice, you can ask them the question above. Terrorists, driven by a deep sense of justice, simply can’t say no to such a question.
It’s slow work. It takes someone with backbone and determination to do it.
Thanks, Armin and thanks to Geneva Call, the organization who makes this happen and more.