Family Lives Matter

As a Social Worker and family therapist, I was trained to work with families on developing a safety plan in response to any incident of abuse and domestic violence. Such “work” differs from case to case, but in the broadest of terms, it involves calling a crime a crime and then taking all steps necessary to prevent the crime from ever happening again in that family. In effect, it becomes the work of crime fighting in the interest of everyone’s safety. The primary problem to be solved being that of a “safety problem.”

Beyond the obvious work of involving the police and the justice system in matters of criminal law enforcement, the work of healing the victims involves a confrontation with the violent criminal along the lines of these 3 questions: 1) Can you stop yourself from causing this safety problem again? 2) If so, who will be your accountability partners and how will they verify that you have stopped yourself? 3) If you cannot or do not stop yourself, do you understand that we will join as many people as it takes to stop you, and that we will decide without your participation exactly who will do what, when, where, and how to stop you? Such questions for the criminal to answer become important in the solution of any safety problem, for otherwise the safety plan itself is like an uncovered wound left to heal. When someone in the family is hurt by a violent crime of any nature, the yield signs are packed away and the stop signs, as many as it takes, are planted in their place.

Whether we are inclined to think in these terms or not, the world is a macro version of the human family. When the safety of some has been violated, we are all affected. We are all at risk. And as nation states, we must join as many member nations together as possible to get some answers as to what has caused this safety problem our world now has. Who can stop it from happening again? And if they can’t or they won’t, then who else can and how? This is called diplomacy. It engages victims as well as perpetrators in a separate process of conversation around the same topic of safety first.

In light of the recent criminal acts against our human family as perpetrated by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, a safety plan must be developed among our human family aimed at putting up Stop signs wherever they may be needed around the world. If those responsible for causing the problem with their criminal behavior are unwilling to stop themselves and be held accountable with adequate verifications, then obviously the remainder of the human community must figure into the safety plan. Such a safety plan must continue until such point as, for example, all victimized Iraqi and Syrian refugees who desire to return home from their settlement camps have safely done so.

To many, such social work on this macro level will seem impossible. The whole world will not fit into one therapy room. Yet, as in family therapy where one must sometimes divide the room into subsets for practical planning purposes, a good place to start may be either the 22 member Arab League (itself a rather dysfunctional family) or a larger group of nations with a significant population of Islamic citizens, to include Iran and Turkey among others outside the Arab League. Clearly, the matter of Islamic participation in any global safety planning is necessary because Muslims are most often the victims of terrorism (I prefer the term criminal violence) within their own larger family. The most likely therapist or social work agency for such a process is likely the United Nations itself. Not everyone trusts this therapist, but it’s the best one available since Dr. Phil is off doing Hollywood television.

Clearly, it is unrealistic to expect Islamic criminals, having caused safety problems internationally in legal violation within multiple sovereign States, to be willing or able to stop themselves from continuing their killing spree. If they do not stop from killing their own Islamic men, women, and children, and they obviously don’t, then it will take more than the Islamic nations themselves to stop them. It will take more than western military forces to stop them. Realistically, it will take all of the above and then some. But it must be done.

The global human family needs safety. Criminal violence against our family, whether by so-called insiders or outsiders, must be stopped. No plan of healing therapy can happen without this safety problem being solved. And no safety plan can, or will, be carried out only by “those people,” be they Arabs, Muslims, American soldiers or western allies. We must all volunteer. We must all act as family members together and play our own role in stopping the crime. If we would do it to protect our own smaller family here on earth, they we must do it to protect our larger family as well. That is the only way for us to manage the risk that we, too, may be the next victims of this illegal, criminal violence we have until now called terrorism.

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