According to news reports, the tragic events of five years ago today were precipitated when people associated with Al-Qaeda became angry over US involvement in the Middle East. The logic seems to be, "We want the US to change what they are doing, so we will strike out with aggressive, destructive action in the hope this will dissuade America from continuing." To date, the response seems to be increased involvement of the US and its NATO allies in the Middle East. The official attitude appears to be, "No way are we going to let the terrorists push us around. In fact, we're going to do our best to cut their feet out from under them." This is hardly the result the terrorists seem bent on achieving.
The Al-Qaeda leadership could choose to use different tactics, such as diplomatic communication or publication of their concerns in the hopes that world opinion might influence US decision-making. Perhaps Al-Qaeda feels they are not powerful enough to make these strategies work, so they choose a course they hope will actually have an impact. Like I said above, they are creating an impact all right but the results so far don't seem to be the ones they are after.
We also deal with conflicts in our personal relationships, albeit on a smaller scale. Suppose your spouse does something you don't like. This could be anything, like the way your wife can't seem to get along with your mother or your husband's refusal to help get the kids ready for school in the morning. You're fed up with it and you want it to change, so what do you do? We could try any number of strategies, and I bet most of us have to admit to being aggressive at times. He won't help so you yell at him, tell him how unhappy you are and demand that he should start pulling his weight. Maybe you give him the silent treatment for a while, or angrily refuse his request to iron his shirt, making sure he knows the reason why. (And no, I don't think a wife should automatically iron her husband's shirts. Maybe he was running late and asked for a favor. This is just an example. Work with me here.)
What will his reaction be? A spouse with any spine at all will often want to show he has one. He doesn't want this type of dynamic to continue, so he will be highly motivated to resist your pressure tactics. The same would typically be true when a wife doesn't want to encourage her husband's aggression. The spirit of cooperativeness flies out the window and the whole situation can spiral downward.
Kind of like what is happening between Al-Qaeda and the US.
Let me be clear here; I am NOT implying that aggressive spouses act like terrorists. The scale of destructiveness is not even in the same ballpark. I draw the parallel to point out that the tactics used in both cases tend to be equally ineffective. I firmly believe that terrorism will always be a futile gesture because it is based on flawed psychological principles. The idea is to scare people into doing what you want. When you treat someone badly though (as the terrorists most definitely did on 9/11) their response is usually to push back, to become even more firm in their resolve not to give in to those tactics.
The same is true when we strike out in anger towards the people in our lives, whether they are our spouses, children, friends or co-workers.
Perhaps there is a way we can all offer a small tribute to those who lost their lives five years ago and in the conflicts that have taken place since then. Maybe we can learn a lesson and resolve not to use pressure tactics in our personal relationships. By communicating and negotiating instead, we can build up rather than destroy the spirit of trust and cooperation.