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I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help

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Alisdair: I take your point that we are all part of our society and thus share responsibility for it. However (to take the most extreme case) if I vote against a certain political party, and then join protest marches against its policies, how can it be argued that I have any responsibility for its actions? Have I not in such a case discharged my duty as far as possible, by demonstrating in every conceivable (peaceful) way that I condemn those policies and that they do not represent my views?

Judith Chisholm: I don't think anyone sane can possibly deny that terrorism is horrible and can never be justified...but if you think of those who perpetrate it as "evil", and stop there without thinking any further, you can't hope to understand the situation, and thus can't hope to change it. Unless you're religious, you have to realise (imho) that there is no such *thing* as "evil" - the world just isn't that black and white.

Besides which, even if that were not true and we could all agree on a universal standard of "evil", the mere fact of being evil can't provide a motivation for action. It can allow people to consider *methods* which sane people wouldn't contemplate, but the actual motivating factor must come from something else. Many terrorists kill themselves - deliberately - while carrying out their crime. If they are doing it purely because they're "evil" and enjoy causing suffering, what on earth would be in it for them, if they don't live to see the consequences? It just doesn't make sense. The only way we can hope to stop terrorism from happening is by understanding the factors which drive people to it, and addressing them.
Nic Shakeshaft, 15 years ago.

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