Connecting the Dots

Jen Buss

We all grew up with books that allowed us to create pictures simply by “connecting the dots”. At what point did you start to see the picture emerge without having to draw the remaining lines? How many dots did you connect? If you were able to see the image before you finished connecting, it was because your brain filled in the missing parts; it understood the model of the picture. What happens if you connect half the dots and the picture remains ambiguous? If it is a picture in a children’s book, then the worst that can happen is you might interpret the picture wrong. However, what if the picture is that of terrorism in the United States? What might happen if we do not connect all the dots and interpret that picture wrong?

Our brains are really good at pattern recognition, especially when we’re seeing shapes, words, and sounds. When we have boundaries or definitions around events, it’s easy to create a pattern. We seem to have a much harder time when we have to find the pattern in all the noise. When our definitions are muddled and constantly tried, we begin to lose the shape. Our eyes (and ears) can play tricks on us.

How many dots will it take before we see that terrorism is happening all across our country?

When we take the definition of domestic terrorism, and lay each of the events in recent years over the definition, we can begin to see a pattern emerge. Terrorism is not something that happens far away and occasionally makes it past DHS and the FBI. Terrorism happens right here at home, and we should not tolerate it.

We’ve been blinded by the normalcy of these domestic terror events, taken them to be inevitable and something different than they are. Our brains are being tricked to not see the pattern by adding filters that make these events seem like they’re okay. It’s not okay for anyone to restrict someone’s freedom. These events are not inevitable. We do not have to take this. We can see this the other way – that our society is being attacked, we’re acting differently due to actions of others.

Terrorists are not just Islamic radicals, they are any individual who is willing to invoke fear into people through acts of violence meant to fundamentally change the lives of those people. We are interpreting our picture of terrorism before we finish connecting the dots. We can find these terrorists, show the world that we don’t tolerate bullying, and America can continue to live in freedom. We don’t have to be scared.  All we have to do is connect the dots.

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