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An Explosive Mix – And How We Can Defuse It with Dignity
by Evelin Lindner
1st edition published in July 2017
2nd revised edition published in October 2017
xxiv + 786 pages
ISBN (print) 978-1-937570-97-2
Humankind has reached a boiling point. Violence, hatred, and terror have become deeply entangled with honor, heroism, glory, loyalty, and love. Over the past five percent of modern human history on planet Earth, roughly the past ten millennia, human activity has reached a crescendo of rapid and ruthless competition for domination, a fight for power over people and the planet, where "might" has become "right." Within this context, a dangerous culture of honor has evolved, in which destruction is mercilessly merged with love: “It is my duty, if I love my people, to heroically destroy our enemies and secure all resources for us,” underwritten by an ominous motto: "If you want peace, prepare for war."
Humanity has haphazardly constructed an entire world-system on top of this merger, holding the whole world hostage through never-ending cycles of domination and humiliation. The consequence, today, is the ubiquitous destruction of human and environmental life on this planet. Terror and terrorism are the tools of a twisted honor system that should alert us to the mounting danger while we still have a window of opportunity for change.
With this book, the author encourages us to recognize the immense historic opportunity that is open to us in the wake of these dangerous times. Drawing on 40 years of research gathered on her personal path of living globally, she calls us to action in service of restoring and replenishing the health of human arrangements of relationships, emphasizing the lifesaving necessity of mutually dignifying cooperation. When we overcome the legacy of honor and terror together, in mutual respect, we can address the social and environmental crises of our time and the terror these developments foment.
This book is a breathtaking, globally informed account of how humanity can reverse the rising tide of terror, making dignity our destiny and legacy… before it is too late.This book is a breathtaking, globally informed account of how humanity can reverse the rising tide of terror, making dignity our destiny and legacy… before it is too late.
Evelin Lindner has a dual education as a Medical Doctor and a Psychologist, with a Ph.D. in Medicine (Dr. med.) from the University in Hamburg in Germany, and a Ph.D. in Psychology (Dr. psychol.) from the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo in Norway. She is the founding president of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS), a global transdisciplinary community of concerned academics and practitioners who wish to promote dignity and transcend humiliation around the world. Linda Hartling is the director of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies. Lindner is also co-founder of the World Dignity University initiative, including Dignity Press and World Dignity University Press. All initiatives are not for profit. She lives and teaches globally, and is affiliated with the University of Oslo since 1997 (first with the Department of Psychology, and later also with its Centre for Gender Research, and with the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights). Furthermore, she is affiliated with Columbia University in New York City since 2001 (with the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity, AC4), and since 2003 with the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme in Paris. She convenes two conferences per year together with the HumanDHS network, altogether 30 conferences have been conducted since 2003 all around the world. One conference takes place each December at Columbia University in New York City, it is the Workshop on Transforming Humiliation and Violent Conflict, with Morton Deutsch as honorary convener. The other conference takes place at a different location each year, since 2003 in Europe (Paris, Berlin, Oslo, Dubrovnik), Costa Rica, China, Hawai'i, Turkey, New Zealand, South Africa, Rwanda, and Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. See for a list of past and future conferences. Lindner has received several awards and as a representative of the dignity work of HumanDHS, she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
More about Evelin Lindner at the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies web pages.
- Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict, 2006, Foreword by Morton Deutsch
- Emotion and Conflict: How Human Rights Can Dignify Emotion and Help Us Wage Good Conflict, 2009, Foreword by Morton Deutsch
- Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security: Dignifying Relationships from Love, Sex, and Parenthood to World Affairs, 2010, Foreword by Desmond Tutu
- A Dignity Economy: Creating an Economy That Serves Human Dignity and Preserves Our Planet, 2012, Foreword by Linda Hartling and Uli Spalthoff
- Honor, Humiliation, and TerrorHonor, Humiliation, and TerrorAn Explosive Mix – And How We Can Defuse It with Dignity, 2017, Foreword by Linda Hartling
See more publications by Evelin Lindner at the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies website
Are you prepared? Are you ready for the intellectual ride of your life? If you have this book in your hand you are well on your way to a global voyage of groundbreaking conceptualizations, a literary compass to a new world. Evelin Lindner is a modern day Magellan of thought, a Galileo of contemporary social science, a Michelangelo of human relations, and a Mandela of social transformation. This book is a realization of her lifelong expedition cultivating unbounded knowledge informed by global scholarship and direct connection to the lived experience of peoples of the world. Are you prepared? Are you ready for the intellectual ride of your life? If you have this book in your hand you are well on your way to a global voyage of groundbreaking conceptualizations, a literary compass to a new world. Evelin Lindner is a modern day Magellan of thought, a Galileo of contemporary social science, a Michelangelo of human relations, and a Mandela of social transformation. This book is a realization of her lifelong expedition cultivating unbounded knowledge informed by global scholarship and direct connection to the lived experience of peoples of the world.
If you are ready to join in this journey, be prepared to think big. Lindner challenges us to look beyond the limits of conventional academic-institutional-corporate-nationalistic borders. This book is not written for those who restrict their studies to the silos of political think tanks or academic ivory towers. Rather, this is a book of deep transdisciplinary insight inspired by a visionary global community: world-renown philosophers, such as Arne Næss; conflict resolution scholars, such as Morton Deutsch; trailblazing pioneers in the study of humiliation, such as Donald Klein; revolutionary relational theorists in psychology, such as Jean Baker Miller; sociologists and economists of equality, such as S. Mike Miller; indigenous leaders and oral historians, such as Carmen Hetaraka; artists and poets, such as William Stafford and Francisco Gomes de Matos; and Nobel Peace Prize laureates, such as Berta von Suttner. Further, this book reflects Lindner’s constant gardening of wisdom from countless quiet contributors who share their stories of struggle and resilience in the face of daily indignities and devastating disasters. Evelin Lindner organizes her whole life as a citizen of the world to bring us this globally informed treatise, a panoramic understanding of the risks humankind is facing in today’s world.
At first glance, one might presume that it is a text about terrorism. Without question, Lindner offers indispensible insights to dismantle cycles of humiliation that can lead to terrorist acts. Yet this book is about something much bigger. It dares to delve into all forms of terror that hold humanity hostage to poisonous social practices, toxic corporate conduct, paralyzing political conflict, devastating aggression, and ecocidal practices and policies. Lindner doesn’t rely on the timeworn tactics of polarizing people or vilifying individuals to draw attention to the urgency of her message. Instead, she empowers readers to understand the complex systemic conditions that have blinded us from creating new possibilities and solutions. She describes a promising future of mutually beneficial engagement and social arrangements that would help us save ourselves while saving others and the world.
Evelin Lindner and I began our lifelong conversation in 1999, after we both broke ground studying the impact of humiliation, a profoundly degrading experience that has largely been neglected in the literature until recently. Both of us, like others who join with us, have traveled to hell and back to learn the necessary lessons that compel our efforts to bring the benefits of equal dignity into every aspect of our life work. Both of us are firm in our belief in the basic goodness of human beings, a goodness that can get lost in the relentless fog of industrialized and institutionalized forms of modern-day humiliation and destructive conflict.
More than anything else, our research has taught us that there is no time to lose. We never stop talking about the urgency of preventing and repairing the pain of humiliation, what Lindner calls “a nuclear bomb of emotions.” We never ought to stop talking about dignity as the path to local and global change for the better. We never should stop talking how all of us can work together to create the dignifying conditions that provide for the growth and participation of all people while we protect and replenish our planet. Evelin Lindner’s book serves as a universal affirmation for those who courageously strive to build bridges of equal dignity in their own lives and around the world. In addition, this book is a universal invitation to all who wish to do their part to replace cycles of humiliation and terror with dignifying dialogue. The world needs you now. Are you prepared?
Linda Hartling, Ph.D.
Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies
Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.
November 3, 2016
This book has been written for all readers interested in reflecting on humanity’s future. It speaks to scholars and students in the field of public policy planning. It also speaks to those who wish to reduce terror around the world, in whatever form it might appear. And it speaks to those who use terror tactics or support them, including those who feel justified in fighting terror with terror. This book has been written for all readers interested in reflecting on humanity’s future. It speaks to scholars and students in the field of public policy planning. It also speaks to those who wish to reduce terror around the world, in whatever form it might appear. And it speaks to those who use terror tactics or support them, including those who feel justified in fighting terror with terror.
The book aims at radicalizing its readers. Radicalizing toward dignity rather than terror, radicalizing in the sense of waking up to the conscientization that Paulo Freire called for, which means turning conscience into action for dignity. The book embeds the topic of terrorism into practices of domination in general, domination over people and nature, and how they give rise to terror, both directly and as side-effects. The book argues that the terror that arises from competition for domination needs more attention from us, and that we overlook it at our own peril when we allow here-and-now incidents of terrorism to consume all our energy. If we focus on here-and-now terrorist acts too much, the big picture escapes us. The author speaks from the perspective of a concerned global citizen who fears that the beginning of the twenty-first century will once be described as a dark age, dark not because of terrorism, but because of unsustainable social and ecological arrangements that first seed terror and then perilously both under-estimate and over-instrumentalize terrorism.
The book is like a painting, a painting of the world as it stands in the twenty-first century. It is painted by an author who has lived globally, on all continents, for the past forty years. The book therefore uses a very personal brush, in the hope that its readers will be inspired to do the same.
This is the line of reasoning in the book in a nutshell: Violence, hatred, and terror are deeply intertwined with honor, heroism, glory, and love. The past five percent of modern human history on planet Earth, roughly the past ten millennia, were characterized by competition for domination, where “might” became “right.” In this context, a culture of honor spawned, in which destruction merged with love: “It is my duty, if I love my people, to heroically destroy our enemies and secure all resources for us. It is my duty to make sure that we will never be humiliated.” The guiding motto was If you want peace, prepare for war.
The script of honor and heroism that characterized the past millennia has created a world of victors and vanquished, of dominators triumphing over what they dominate, be it other people or nature. Global interconnectedness, however, is a radical game changer. In the new context, the old script no longer leads to victory. It now leads to the suicidal shredding of our entire sociosphere and ecosphere. Global interconnectedness forces other mottos to the forefront, such as the African adage: It takes a village to raise a child. Or Mahatma Gandhi’s There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.
Sadly, however, as for now, the global village fails its task. This is the most significant source of terror the world experiences now. It is a dangerous illusion to believe that finite natural resources can be plundered without side effects. And it is an equally dangerous illusion to believe that global social challenges can be responded to with violence and war as if the world were still compartmentalized into unconnected sovereign regions. On a sinking ship, when all hands are needed on deck to change the course, in-fighting is a deadly strategy.
The book warns that the risks flowing from terrorism are both dangerously played down, and dangerously played up. If reasonable balance were the outcome, it would be acceptable. However, it is not. The result is that what is being done, is easily misguided, and what should be done, fails to be done. Terrorism is being overemphasized for ulterior motives where it should be seen as a social problem, and on the other side, where it would require more attention and efforts to prevent it, it is neglected. Examples include infrastructure, including vulnerable installations such as nuclear power plants that are insufficiently protected against terrorist attacks. Where terrorism does receive attention, it may be for the wrong reasons and with counterproductive consequences. What should be done is the weaving of global social cohesion, yet, this is neglected. What we call terrorism may altogether be a harbinger of much greater terror, terror that looms if we, as humankind, continue to stay at the surface with our attention.
Having escaped nuclear annihilation during the Cold War, similarly deadly threats, including nuclear threats, now also flow from terrorism. In a situation where opportunities for catastrophic terrorist acts increase, even from single individuals, it is hazardous and foolish to concurrently increase the breeding ground for terrorism. It is hazardous to feel terrorized by here-and-now isolated emergency threats to the status quo, while failing to feel terrorized by the fact that this status quo is unsustainable, at least in the longer term, and that it breeds terror rather than diminishing it. In short, terrorism needs to be taken less seriously on one side and more seriously on the other side.
Terrorism is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. It is a warning sign for Terror with a capital “T.” It warns that when the world is as interconnected as it is at the present point in history, organizing social life on Earth as in the past is no longer feasible. While terrorists are few, their activities hold the entire world hostage, not only through the immediate destruction they bring about, but also through the responses of affected societies. Examples are an excessive militarization, the undermining of civil liberties, and an overall drift toward authoritarian regimes.
Global cycles of humiliation have the potential to trigger terror on a scale that can set back all human rights milestones achieved so far. They can throw us back into a world of extremist empires on a path to annihilate each other. Cycles of humiliation can be triggered advertently and inadvertently, for instance, through double standards, through failing the promise of equal dignity for all. Therefore, only large-scale change both globally and locally can help us build a more dignified future. Small-scale efforts, as well-intentioned and partially successful as they may be, are like wanting to keep the walls of the proverbial coal mine from collapsing by simply patching the cracks.
The study of terrorism and of humiliation has to be designed as a multi- and transdisciplinary approach. Also chronocentrism has to be avoided. If it is true that during the past five percent of modern human history a culture of honor has spawned, in which destruction and bravery merged and violence and terror became intertwined with heroism and glory, then present-day’s social and ecological degradation is a byproduct of the successful functioning of what we erected as world-system. None of these challenges can be adequately understood and addressed from one discipline alone, nor with myopic ahistoricity.
This perspective is supported by the authors particular personal life path, which is neither Western nor non-Western. More than “traveling the world,” she has lived globally, with all continents as her home, and she has done so for the past forty years. This global experience forces her eyes wide open to the fact that we, as humankind, have dug ourselves into a multitude of perilous crises, both despite and because of what we call progress. Yet, the author also sees an immense window of opportunity waiting to be used. Unfortunately, so far, instead of recognizing the depth of the crises at hand and grasping the historic opportunity to exit, most of us choose to stay myopic. We tend to exaggerate negligible dangers, overlook gigantic dangers, and scorn the exit opportunity that history offers us entirely undeservedly. Meanwhile, terror contributes to, and is instrumentalized for masking or even closing this window of opportunity.
Domination and humiliation are intimately interlinked, and we live at a point in history where dynamics of humiliation are fueled ever more forcefully, not least through the breaking of the promise of equal dignity as it is enshrined in human rights ideals, and this in a shrinking world. This, in turn, engenders an atmosphere of terror, and inspires acts of terror that foreclose our most important task: global cooperation to save our ship from sinking, cooperation for a large-scale dignity transition toward a decent global village for all people and our planet.
The author predicts that hostility will increase if we fail this task, not least since one of its drivers, humiliation, becomes much more salient in an interconnected world than it was in previous historical times. It is therefore that she advises to take humiliation into account in radically new ways. When dignity is promised, but violated, it is not just any expectation gap that opens, it is a dignity gap, and this is extremely dangerous. The reason is that what the author calls dignity humiliation is more intense than the honor humiliation that has reigned while the world was not yet as interconnected as now. Having one’s dignity humiliated excludes one from humanity and is therefore more hurtful than having one’s honor humiliated. If dignity humiliation were to stay internally coherent, it would lead to the conscientization of a Paulo Freire and to responses in the spirit of a Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Most often, however, it rather leads to what the author calls cross over: to acts of revenge that are informed by the script of honor humiliation. If this cross over becomes our future, the resulting hostility will constitute a far greater danger than climate change or the exhaustion of raw materials, or any other disaster scenario.
Whoever believes that peace education would be good enough as a remedy, will be disappointed. Peace education is useful and important, yet, not enough. Research in social psychology shows that particularly youths of thirteen to fifteen years of age, those in need to listen most, are the most difficult to reach. Especially adolescent males are the most vulnerable to be recruited by terror entrepreneurs. Most people do not reach their full brain capacity until the age twenty-five. Many youths may therefore not be able to contain themselves, and their environment must shoulder this responsibility. Their communities have to hold and contain those young people in their vulnerability. “It takes a village to raise a child,” is one African saying, “All kids are our kids” is another. For a world free of terrorism, it is the global village who is responsible for all of the world’s children and youth.
Not only young people need to be held. Mutual connection is a life-giving necessity for all. To realize this, the global community has to re-design the foundational constitutive rules of our currently existing world-system, away from competition for domination toward a partnership model of society. All other interventions, as well-intentioned as they may be, will vainly attempt to cure the symptoms. If it takes a village to raise a child, then the global village fails this task up til now. And this is the most significant terror the world experiences.
Terror and terrorism will decrease when we, as humankind at large, stop overlooking the long-term and global challenges of our journey on planet Earth, the moment we cease waging artificial conflicts and dare to attend to our necessary conflicts. Necessary conflicts need to be addressed rather than neglected, and this has to be done in dignified and dignifying ways, without humiliating the humiliators. Both terrorism and out-of-proportion counterterrorism hinder this overdue transition. We need to use the presently available historic window of opportunity to become the global family we are, the integral part of nature we are, and solve our family problems in ways good families do.
The author has coined the term egalization to signify the true realization of human rights ideals of equal dignity for all. She calls for globalization to be humanized by egalization – for globegalization – instead of accepting that globalization dehumanizes humanity through global domination and terror. She calls for dignity-ism, or dignism to inform new global institutions that benefit from the promise that is entailed in interconnectedness. These institutions will need to manifest the principle of unity in diversity, meaning that we unite in respect for the dignity of our diversity, while at the same time guarding against global uniformity and global division. Such global institutions will enable the global community to overcome bygone cultural scripts and learn to practice the Freire-Mandela-Gandhi way of healing humiliation, overcoming terror, and creating a dignified future for our children.
With this book, the author hopes to alert her readers to what the psycho-geo-historical lens that she uses lets her see. When incidents of terrorism happen, the author’s hope is always that the shock will awaken people’s attention to the deeper layers of terror-in-waiting. She hopes that people will be propelled into more thorough reflection on long-term preventive action. However, usually her hopes are dashed. Like with climate change, inaction is fed both by denying the threat, as much as by its opposite, exaggeration to the point of defeatism – “there is nothing we can do; we’re already doomed.”
The image of the Blue Planet from the astronaut’s perspective summarizes, publicizes, and symbolizes an immense window of opportunity for us to create a dignified world, including a terror-free world, at least free of systemic terror. What befits humankind now is a sense of emergency so as to truly see and use this historically unmatched window of opportunity that may not remain open for long.
The Blue Planet image provides a powerful frame for collaboration. None of our forefathers was able to see anything comparable. None of our predecessors was able to fathom in the same way as present-day Homo sapiens that we are one single family living on one tiny and finite planet. None of our founders of religions, philosophies, or empires had access to the vast amount of knowledge that we possess today about the universe and our place in it.
Why do we, as humankind, overlook the historic opportunity that is open to us to engage in deeper global cooperation, an opportunity greater than ever imaginable before? Why is our global government/corporate nexus stuck in out-of-date games of competition for domination, games that also fuel terrorism? One reason may be the negative aspects of the recent rounds of globalization that we have witnessed, aspects that systematically hide its promises. Its promises lie in what anthropologists call the ingathering of the human tribes. This ingathering entails a unique opportunity, the opportunity, namely, to unite the global human family, invite it into one-world consciousness and cooperation, not just as lofty rhetoric, but as hands-on lived global solidarity.
Many wonder, including the author, why even thinkers and activists who work for a better future for humanity seem rather disinterested in global governance. Perhaps the promise entailed in the ingathering of humankind goes unseen and unused because it is such an novel phenomenon. And perhaps the toxic aspects of globalization are too complicated, causing people to recoil from focusing on the global level. In the author’s view, even though this oversight is understandable, it is not excusable. Mechanisms of global plunder admittedly are so complex that only a minority of people is in a position to even understand them, let alone do something about them. For most people, globalization simply dissolves the floor under their feet without any clear explanation, particularly in communities that were sheltered before. The world becomes confusing, fear-inducing, and frightfully “liquid,” as Zygmunt Bauman formulated it. The sense of insecurity that in former times was experienced only by displaced people, refugees, diasporas, exiles, or indigenous peoples, is now brought to the rest through globalization.
The result of this oversight is that the global space that waits to be humanized is left to forces of dehumanization. Even those among my friends stay timid who would have all the necessary resources to give a significant push to planetary solidarity. They leave it to social media, for instance, where the potential for planetary solidarity is being instrumentalized for profit, and this is still one of the more harmless abuses. Or, they leave it to a global nexus of finance, criminality, and terrorism, including the instrumentalization of the fear of terrorism. Others are more courageous, yet, also they make globalization only more toxic when they enact the “frequent traveler” version of global citizenship, viewing the world as a leisure park for the rich, at best, or targeting the commons of our globe as market opportunities yet to be exploited. Then there are those who are both daring and caring, those who wish to help, those who feel called to work for development, humanitarian aid, conflict transformation, and environmental protection. Yet, sadly, also they, only too often slide into the charitable-industrial complex that is part of the dark side of globalization. Not enough, even the most well-intended global human rights advocates create conflict rather than prevent it when they hold the illusion that “bringing people together” and “raising human rights awareness” alone will translate into peaceful global cooperation. What human rights advocacy may do instead is throw inequality and disrespect into starker contrast than before, and this, in turn, can create expectation gaps that lead to feelings of humiliation that were not felt before. If these feelings of humiliation, together with the means for violent backlashes, are then magnified by globalization, they can heat up and boil over. Terrorism is an intricate part of this mix.
The book ends with a call for action. We, as humankind, have to, and can dramatically change the underlying structures of our world-system. We can co-create a decent global village for all people and our planet. The author’s personal path of global living represents a radical hands-on experiment in global “family building.” She suggests that many readers of the book will find it worth investigating how also they can contribute more to creating a world of unity in diversity, rather than enduring a world of division without unity. Global solidarity and trust is tantamount to solving our global problems, which, if successful, will also diminish terror and fear.In our times of global crises it is not only crucially important, it is also hugely enriching to invest in the nurturing of global solidarity in mutual respect. If we do, the nature of what we call terrorism will change and space will open for dignity to flourish.
Respectful global family building is more than feasible, it is also hugely inspirational and even fun. In the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies community, as part of our global family building efforts, we encourage all our members to open their homes as Human Dignity Dialogue Homes or Dignihomes. The author meets many young people, all around the world, also outside of our community, who confirm that connecting with other people, connecting with “strangers,” if done respectfully, can be exhilaratingly exciting, enjoyable, meaningful, and deeply satisfying.
“Only connect…,” wrote novelist Edward Morgan Forster (1879 – 1970) in the epigraph of his famous 1910 novel Howards End. If his advice had been heeded in 1914, already the two world wars of the twentieth century could have been avoided. Respectful connection, respectful solidarity, considering the others’ perspectives in addition to one’s own, could have saved millions of lives. This book is another attempt at connecting, globally and locally.
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An ebook version (ePub) is forthcoming
Download an Executive Summary
Foreword by Linda Hartling, Director, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies
The author's background and approach
The significance of dignity and humiliation in our time
Inviting the reader into this book project
Section One: The Security Dilemma – Too Far Apart and Too Close Together
Introduction to Section One
Chapter 1: The Dominator Mindset – Where Does It Come From?
Chapter 2: How Spirituality Fell Prey to the Security Dilemma
Chapter 3: Also Human Nature and Cultural Diversity Fell Prey to the Security Dilemma
Chapter 4: The Rise of the “Art of Domination”Chapter 5: How Pressure-Cooker Vents Explode
Inspiring and Thought-Provoking Questions
Appendix: Selected Interviews
Section Two: Honor Humiliation – The Duty to Retaliate
Introduction to Section Two
Chapter 6: Honor Is Like Armor, and Heroes Are Proud of Their Battle Wounds
Chapter 7: The Rise of the “Art of Humiliation”
Chapter 8: Humility Remains Indispensable
Chapter 9: Méconnaissance, or How One Can Damage One’s Own Best Interest
Chapter 10: How Voluntary Self-Humiliation Is Possible
Chapter 11: How Dominator Economics Terrorize
Inspiring and Thought-Provoking Questions
Section Three: Peace the Traditional Way – A Balance of Terror
Introduction to Section Three
Chapter 12: The Security Dilemma Was Once Inescapable
Chapter 13: Patriots Deserve Respect
Chapter 14: "War for Peace" Was All We Once Knew
Chapter 15: Maintaining a Balance of Terror Is Costly
Chapter 16: Sow the Wind and Reap the Storm
Chapter 17: How the Terror of “War for Peace” Is Still with Us
Chapter 18: What Then Must We Do? Outlook into the Future...
Inspiring and Thought-Provoking Questions
At last, a book that dares to delve into all forms of terror that hold humanity hostage, including toxic corporate conduct, escalating violence, and ecocide practices and policies. Evelin Lindner offers us a globally informed, panoramic analysis of the risks humankind is facing. Her call for universal dignity will affirm, strengthen, and energize efforts that could save the world.
– Linda Hartling, Director, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies and World Dignity University initiative
Evelin Lindner is one of the most important, present-day actors for peace, international solidarity and conflict resolution, human rights and democracy building, and in this book she adresses the most burning issues of our time – terrorism and the quest for a dignified world. In this book she further develops her theories on humiliation and thus deepens the understanding of the many unrestrained conflicts that threaten the world today.
– Inga Bostad, Professor of Philosophy, Director, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo, Norway
The feeling of humiliation is among the strongest of all human emotions. Evelin Lindner brilliantly explains how it contributes to terror and wars.
– Erik Solheim, Head, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi, Kenya
Evelin Lindner’s new book is a different, and most welcome, exploration of the origins of terror. It convincingly argues that most current efforts to prevent terror are futile, and that what is at stake is a fundamental overhaul of global governance and resource distribution. Lindner’s personal inquiry into the role of dignity and humiliation takes another giant step with this book, which is a must read that will force many of us to reexamine our own basic schemes of understanding.
– Kristian Berg Harpviken, Director, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Norway
In a time of increasing nationalism and populism, Evelin Lindner's global call for dignity and her fight against humiliation in all its forms are not only refreshing but deeply needed. The reader will find herself challenged and awakened by Lindner's personal journey and story. Indeed, Lindner forces us to ask what each and every one of us can do to create a more dignified, peaceful, and unified world – and one that is better governed, not just locally, but globally. Combining personal engagement with insight, experience, and a willingness to ask uncomfortable questions, Evelin Lindner confronts many of the challenges of our times head-on.
– Henrik Syse, Philosopher and Author, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and Bjørknes University College, Norway, and Member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
Lindner’s book represents a clarion call to the global community to recognize the reality and power of our connectedness. Grounded in the wisdom of her lived experiences and informed by science, she illustrates how our greatest hope in the face of global terror and violence lies in our ability to recognize the ways we are all inextricably in relationship with one another. Lindner’s book could not be more timely. In the face of the growing specter of terrorism worldwide, she calls upon the global community to recognize the power of context, and the way these threats are rooted in fundamental human needs we hold the power to honor and transform.
– Peter T. Coleman, Director, Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (MD-ICCCR), Professor of Psychology and Education, Social-Organizational Psychology Program, Department of Organization and Leadership, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City
Complex societal-systems are particularly vulnerable to disaffection, disruption, and disintegration; dignity and respect are the glue that binds and sustains our ever more complex and expanding relationships. By examining the connections between the emotional impact of humiliation and the behavioral expression of terror, Evelin Lindner explores the essence of the tension between community and exclusivity and how we learn to live together in order to avoid dying alone. Terror always has two faces and each is equally terrifying to the other; this is the source of its power. Terror is born in ignorance and thrives in prejudice and will only be defeated when we take our stance on common ground in mutual admiration and respect.
– Monty G. Marshall, Director, Center for Systemic Peace, Virginia, U.S.A.
Terrorism is a problem that needs to be reframed before it can be resolved. Evelin Lindner proposes a way to reframe it: as a clash of tradition with modernity. She proposes general principles for resolving it, and she spells them out drawing on her vast wealth of on-the-ground experience: Keep modernity´s promises by making human rights real, especially social rights like the right to livelihood. Extend traditional norms of caring for those who belong to your family or your community, to all your sisters and brothers who live with you on this blue planet that Martin Luther King Jr. called our "world house." Doing what is necessary to cure today’s epidemics of terrorism is not easy or simple or fast, but it is possible. Reading this book is a good way to begin.
– Howard Richards, Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College, U.S.A., and Chile
Breathtaking in its vision, meticulously researched and powerfully written, this book brings our world’s struggles over dominance into sharp focus as the force driving terror in a century when global interconnectedness marked by the dignity of all parties is within reach. If you are looking for a realistic path forward, you’ll find it here. This book's take on terror is so surprising, so unexpected, so profoundly compassionate and understanding of our common humanness and our needs for dignity and pulling together, it is extraordinarily insightful, promising and helpful.
– Michael Britton, Peace Psychologist, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Our sick and sorry world has too long been trapped in world views and modes of thinking that see hierarchy and domination, and separation of group from group as the necessary conditions of social order. Human beings accordingly live within a framework of values which denigrates those without the power to dominate and ridicules those who seek to transcend dominance in a quest for universal human dignity. Evelin Lindner has not only instructed us in the dangers to the future of humanity inherent in this world view and these modes of thinking, she has given us the means to spring the trap in her explorations of the cycles of humiliation that comprise the trap and the lever to the spring that is the realization of human dignity. Now she offers us the possibility of liberation from the recent, most bitter fruit of systemic humiliation as inflicted by those who hold the power of dominance and those who aspire to seize that power, terrorism. Clearly, all that has been done by violence and war in the name of eradication of terror, has brought about new cycles of humiliation and escalation of violent retribution. In an exercise of informed and courageous imagination, Lindner provides insights into paths of reconciliation and the healing of the wounds of separation, leading toward human unity in a global order in which human dignity is the norm. She provides a source of hope that can enable us to continue the quest for peace, and inspire us to learn the ways to achieve it.
– Betty A. Reardon, Founding Director Emeritus, International Institute on Peace Education
Evelin Lindner insists in her new book Honor, Humiliation, and Terror on an holistic approach to terrorism. By encouraging us all to keep the image of the Blue Planet as seen from the astronaut’s perspective upfront in our heads, she convincingly talks about the needs of this beautiful, unique and fragile planet of ours. The overreaction or counterproductive reaction to terrorism takes away focus from the real challenges to the survival of humanity and to the planet. It also entails a misuse for military purposes of the natural and human resources that are needed in order to reach the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. To obtain a life in dignity for all would entail a new way of thinking and acting, new production and consumption patterns based both on sustainability and solidarity. The UNESCO and UN vision of culture of peace, may, if enacted, help guide our path.
– Ingeborg Breines, former Co-President of the International Peace Bureau (IPB), former Director of Women and a Culture of Peace at UNESCO, and Special Adviser to the Director-General on Women, Gender and Development
This book calls for new forms of globalization informed by a new conception of global dignity that would transform both private and public sector action, individual and community responses and many global disciplines, be they humanitarian, development, environmental or conflict-related. The world needs this ingathering to unite the global human family toward one-world consciousness more than ever before.
– Gay Rosenblum-Kumar, former Head of the United Nations Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action, and peacebuilding consultant
Lindner illustrates what strengthens families and ends war: Everyone has a story that needs, even cries out, to be listened to. Unheard and disregarded, very good, loving women, men, and youth can become hopeless, desperate, even violent, even terrorists. This is preventable and curable if we choose to become great listeners, especially to adversaries and those who have been invisible to us. Surprisingly to some and paradoxically, the first step to life beyond war is not to harm or humiliate, but to dignify your enemy.
– Libby and Len Traubman, Co-founders, Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue, California, U.S.A.
Another seminal book from the pioneer of humiliation studies. In Honor, Humiliation, and Terror, Evelin Lindner focuses on her thesis that competition for domination and a culture of honor, heroism, glory, and love (for 'my' people) lead to terror in all its forms, and humiliation. An essential read for all those who want to understand the origins of our troubled world.
– Deepak Tripathi, PhD, FRHistS, FRAS, and author of Imperial Designs
Evelin's book cogently shows
that honor and humiliation
honor and Terror
should not be confused.
It inspires us terrorism to defuse
And it helps us global dignity and peace to diffuse
May human dignity always be profuse
– Francisco Gomes de Matos - A peace linguist from Recife, Brazil
Lindner’s book terrifies me, shakes me out of my sleepwalking through daily reports of intractable global crises. She makes a brilliant, many-discipline case that the threat to the planet and all who dwell therein truly is terrifying and immediate. She also shows how entrenched the citizens of the world are in destructive ways of being that drive this threat. Her exploration of the causes of our crisis will help us conceive a solution. In the final chapter, she gives us hints to her next book, her proscription for saving us from ourselves. A hint with which I especially identify is her apology to America in a letter to an American friend. I look forward to more of the same in her next book. She understands that genuine vulnerability that begins with genuine apologies, if expertly done, can evoke the same from one’s historic ideological opponents. I see in this dynamic the seeds of a promising relationship between compassion-oriented and, as she often puts it, domination-oriented people. Evelin, hurry up and write that book!
– John McFadden, Presbyterian Minister, Licensed Psychotherapist, and author of the soon to be published book, Empathetic Explanation: A Help to You and the World's Most Troubling
Honor, Humiliation, and Terror: A must-read book
Honor, Humiliation, and Terror: A must-read bookThe Common Good Initiative (GCGI) seeks to offer – through its scholarly and research programme, as well as its outreach and dialogue projects – a vision that positions the quest for economic and social justice, peace and ecological sustainability within the framework of a spiritual consciousness and a practice of open-heartedness, generosity and caring for others, by encouraging us all to know and to serve the common good.
– Kamran Mofid, Ph.D. (ECON), Founder of the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI), Co-founder/Editor of the Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good
Global citizenship would be a solution to the outdated nationalism that destroys like cancer the global community that the contemporary world is evolving into. But unlike nationalism that is fueled by past experiences of humiliation and aggression, global citizenship is a vague concept to many. This book will change that. Lindner's rich experiences of having lived as a global citizen for decades gives us the faith and hope for a more sustainable future for humankind.
– Louise Sundararajan, Founder and Chair, Indigenous Psychology Task Force, author of Understanding Emotion in Chinese Culture: Thinking through Psychology
Dr. Lindner discusses violence, terrorism, hatred, and how, as humanity continually grapples for power and domination, we can distinguish them from honor, glory, and heroism. Through cooperation and relationship restoration, we can reverse this global, historical trend and address crises of our day. Dr. Lindner argues that our window of opportunity to take action is limited. In an era of increased nationalism, these issues not only deserve our attention, they require it.
– Dr. Chris E. Stout, Founding Director of the Center For Global Initiatives, American Psychological Association International Humanitarian Award Winner. He can be reached at DrChrisStout.com
Evelin Lindner’s latest book, Honor, Humiliation and Terror is a timely and welcome addition to the scholarly texts that we recommend to our students at the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters (CRSCAD) where we actively promote human dignity, human rights, social justice and sustainable post-disaster reconstruction. The book’s emphasis on the interlocking relationships of “violence, hatred and terror” and “honor, heroism, glory, and love” intersects with CRSCAD’s concerns with local and global poverty, local and global governance, national and global security, environmental degradation, and inequality (including uneven resource distribution), all of which are both drivers and consequences of various forms of disasters (natural, and human-made such as terrorism and conflicts). It also deepens our understanding of our interconnectedness in an increasingly complex and globalized world. Clearly, the book is a “must-read” for all post-disaster stakeholders including government officials, policy and decision makers, humanitarian and disaster relief organizations, the nonprofit and non-governmental sectors, researchers, first emergency responders, and students of global post-disaster studies.
– Professor Adenrele Awotona, Ph.D., Founder and Director, Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters, University of Massachusetts Boston
Evelin Lindner is a distinguished and passionate scholar who provides language, insights, knowledge and wisdom about the most important themes in our time. Her inclusive scholarship makes us better understand the multiplicity of the human condition. She helps us see how the capacity for evil and destruction can be countered by acts of kindness and good intentions. At the core is the strife for dignity and avoidance of humiliation. This book deserves a wide and engaged readership. Evelin Lindner is a distinguished and passionate scholar who provides language, insights, knowledge and wisdom about the most important themes in our time. Her inclusive scholarship makes us better understand the multiplicity of the human condition. She helps us see how the capacity for evil and destruction can be countered by acts of kindness and good intentions. At the core is the strife for dignity and avoidance of humiliation. This book deserves a wide and engaged readership.
– Inger Skjelsbæk, Research Professor, International Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway
Honor, Humiliation, and Terror: An Explosive Mix – And How We Can Defuse It with Dignity delivers a clear, accessibly written and above all comprehensive presentation of the tragic effect of war and humiliation on us as individuals, and societies. The book introduces real-life examples from around the world and draws on current theories and research, presenting the human struggle in a time of war and terrorism as a shared experience and global responsibility. It argues against silent observation and calls for a conscious agency in making a change both within ourselves and in our communities.
– Doaa Rashed, Faculty and Graduate Program Director, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, University of Maryland Baltimore County, United States
As misery, greed and power circumvent the global arena of international politics, the worse of humanity craves for hope, liberation and inner peace. The impact and consequence of violence, hatred and terror is intricate, delicate, yet fragile. Evelin Lindner's critical dissection of humiliation not only invokes calmness but also impels commitment to restorative dignity, if human kind should persist.
– Veronica Fynn Bruey, Academic Advocate and Executive Director of Tuki-Tumarankeh
Honor, Humiliation, and Terror is a great addition to the growing literature on dignity and humiliation studies. Evelin Lindner advances, broadens, and deepens our understanding of the field by bringing to light a novel approach of imagining global relationships with less terror and humiliation as she delves into the oft-neglected role of dignity among peoples. This beautifully written, organized, and timely book makes an immense contribution to the new field of dignity and humiliation studies. By opening a window into the human experiences of different forms of terror which trap humanity in our world, this book brings forth new perspectives in reconciling a world full of terror and humiliation in many forms. It is indispensable read for students, scholars, practitioners, and policy makers as well as those who are engaged in the arduous task of trying to reconcile a world of denigration of and dominance over some by others. Evelin’s newest book is intellectually engaging and an incisive contribution to the genuine search for peace and less conflict in terms of both seeds and a harvest.
– Fonkem Achankeng I, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh; Executive Board Member, Wisconsin Institute for Peace & Conflict Studies, Wisconsin, USA
Evelin Lindner displays her true genius in Honor, Humiliation, and Terror that contributes to international affairs, rising above and beyond the haunting divisions in a world in need of awakening to frightful terror and advancing human solidarity. Evelin Lindner advances the pathway for rising above the global crisis in humanity threatening our very survival. She is mindful of a trans-cultural evolution which illumines, enriches, and edifies our spiritual character, and our creative vocation in the stewardship of planetary life and the world's resources. Lindner is mindful of the global crisis in humanity and seeks to awaken us to a trans-cultural evolution which differs fundamentally from the materialist interpretation of the cosmos and universe.
– Vince Lombardi, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University
Evelin Lindner’s arduous efforts in Honor, Humiliation and Terror An Explosive Mix – And How We Can Defuse It With Dignity is a game changing work towards world peace.
Lindner, a recent Nobel Prize nominee, deserves the Pulitzer Prize for this groundbreaking effort. Honor, Humiliation and Terror is a pioneering blueprint for humanity’s future. The book delves into our species’ violent past, giving an overview that leads towards understanding as to where we must go from here. Lindner documents how “ecological panic” caused Hitler to seek life space for his people. She lays out how insecurity creates fear and fear creates stress. This causes people to follow dominators that promise to annihilate the “enemy.”
Many works of this nature outline the disease but offer no cure. In Honor, Humiliation and Terror, Lindner explains how dialoguing with nature and each other was once replaced by domination over nature and each other. She then goes a step further to offer a way out. Evelin Lindner proposes that this security dilemma must be transformed from amassing weapons to global cooperation.
Though its title is foreboding, Honor, Humiliation and Terror is a book of solid hope. Lindner and others are trying to transform the world. For all of their self-sacrifice, we owe it to them to listen and act. As Evelin Lindner puts it, we must unshackle our imaginations and creativity to radically change our current system.
In the 1960s I was told I could not change archaic birth control laws. Though I was imprisoned for teaching birth control, I ultimately, in a U.S. Supreme Court case called Baird v. Eisenstadt, helped make it legal. If I as one person was able to do that, then you as one person can read and promote the game-changing ideas in Honor, Humiliation and Terror. Obtain a copy for an individual or group so that we can, as Evelin Lindner puts it, begin to break the cycle of humiliation and projection. Then we must replace it with “planetary consciousness and organic oneness of humanity.” Unity in diversity is the core of Honor, Humiliation and Terror.
– Bill Baird co-directs a non-profit organization for women’s rights. Bill Baird’s U.S. Supreme Court case, Baird v. Eisenstadt, legalized birth control in the U.S. in 1972
The book reflects Dr. Lindner’s deeper understanding of human life and practice and how a moral approach that prioritizes dignity can address the asymmetry that is inherent in the very construction of society. The core message – a dignified approach to life dignifies all and provides a transformative mirror to appreciate life – is what our turbulent world desperately needs, and which needs to be factored in the policymaking. That terrorism is a product of humiliation, at multiple levels, is well elaborated in this book, and the book critically examines all forms of terror – physical, social and psychological – and provides dignified ways to address them. Perhaps a Yogi could write such a book, emerging from a deeper reflection on self, life and society!
– Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra, Director, Mahatma Gandhi Center at the Hindu University of America
The African American thinker, freedom fighter, and writer James Baldwin wrote in his book The Fire Next Time (Vintage, 1962) a long essay that he called “Down At The Cross, Letter from a Region in My Mind.” He is prophetic, searing and wise all throughout, as he writes: “The glorification of one race and the consequent debasement of another – or others – always has been and always will be a recipe for murder. There is no way around this. If one is permitted to treat any group of people with special disfavor because of their race or the color of their skin, there is no limit to what one will force them to endure, and, since the entire race has been mysteriously indicted, no reason not to attempt to destroy it root and branch.” The boldness and passion of James Baldwin makes me all the more ready to embrace the incredibly important Honor, Humiliation, and Terror An Explosive Mix – And How We Can Defuse It with Dignity (Dignity Press, 2017) by Evelin Lindner who stands for our awareness of the misery and destruction of all humiliation, and the crucial need for dignity for all people. Evelin Lindner, medical doctor, psychologist, humanist, wise person, and impassioned human being, brings us the exuberance we need as she jolts us in her exploration of honor and terror, debasement of powerful people towards the less powerful, replete with stark realism about how we would have to change our assumptions (and our actions) to make the world a livable and loving place. This is a book, for me, meant to be picked up, experienced, and then put down to be picked up again. Because the facts in the book will shake the reader, as they remind us of the mistaken presumptions of the societies in which we live. Dr. Lindner has a startling sense of hope, startling because her hope is not based on denial. It is based on her capacity to love and to learn about possibilities for overhauling a slavery of both body and mind to power politics and economics. She knows and helps the reader know that dignity is more than a word but rather a necessity that can and must inform, not only emotions or communications of poetry or good will, but every part of our lives. It is not only practical but it will never be practical to live without it – both for ourselves with all our imperfections, and for others without whom we are nothing at all.
– Carol Smaldino, social work psychotherapist, Huffington Post Contributor and author of The Human Climate: Facing the Divisions Inside us and Between Us, Dignity Press, forthcoming in 2018