Why do young people who grew up in Europe kill innocent citizens in suicide attacks? In her paper, the author makes a link between the deep structure of terrorism and genocide, and offers humiliation as an explanation for both – feelings of humiliation, which carry the potential to lead to acts of humiliation and cycles of humiliation. Current historic times are characterised by two historically novel trends, first, rapidly increasing global interdependence, and second, a growing impact of the human rights message. Furthermore, new research indicates that one can feel as humiliated on behalf of victims one identifies with, as if one were to suffer this pain oneself, a phenomenon that is magnified when media give access to the suffering of people in far-flung places. Human rights ideals also compound this effect because humiliation represents the core violation of the human rights ideal of equality in dignity for all human beings. In the context of globalisation and human rights, therefore, humiliating people no longer produces humble underlings but risks fostering angry ‘terrorists,’ who have yet to realise that equal rights and dignity for all can only be attained by non-humiliating means. The Nelson-Mandela path out of humiliation, namely his strategy of embarking on proactive constructive social change instead of re-active cycles of humiliation, requires the nurturing, locally and globally, of a social and societal climate of mature differentiation, embedded into respect for the equality in dignity of all.
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