Friday, November 16, 2007

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Terrorism and Habit

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

A friend wrote...

Daniel Pipes notes, "The Bush administration's counterterrorism policies appear tough, but inside the courtroom, they evaporate, consistently favoring not American terror victims, but foreign terrorists."

When I tell some of the Israelis I know that America (and the Israeli govt.,) can't be trusted, they say "Let's wait and see." I tell them to look back at where we've been and from that they should be able to see where we are going. But they don't listen. Maybe with such a laundry list, which is probably far from complete, which documents America's many failures in the bogus War on Terror, and which shows a clear historical pattern of perfidy in that regard, perhaps we can make clear to some skeptics that America doesn't have Israel's best interests at heart? How could it, when it doesn't even see how it is harming itself?

Do you think they will listen? Or, are they so deeply in denial that even this won't wake them up?

I fear the latter, because it was obvious even before 9/11 to anyone who was looking, and should have been within a year of that event, after which everyone should have been paying attention.


People are creatures of habit. We see this in Pirke Avos where we are told the value of good friends, good neighbors, and living in a place of Torah. Why? Because the positive habits of our friends, neighbors, and town will reinforce us.

Creatures of habit both in what people do, and how they think. Normally, this is a positive function, in that we can't process everything around us as new (or rather, to do so it takes our full attention, and during much of our day, week, year, we don't have that to devote.) Instead, we pay attention to the differences from the expected pattern.

Did you ever commute to work, and someone came and asked you how the commute was, and you don't know? You honestly can't remember how you got to work, other than knowing it was via the normal way. The commute was "normal", and you were on auto-pilot, so to speak, while listening to the radio or talking on the phone or reading something (depending on your method of commuting). What was on the news, that you know, but how was traffic, all you know is it was normal enough not to need attention.

To change habits, people need motivation, positive or negative, a driving reason to do so. To change mindsets is much the same. "People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings." (John Kotter - The Heart of Change)

The average person (outside of Israel) has not been impacted by terrorism threats. An error of the US administration has been making war while trying to prevent it from impacting day to day citizen life. It's divorced, it's a rational remote analysis kind of thing. There is no driving reason to change.

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