3 Things You Learned In Elementary School

Illustrative Picture. (Photo: Creative Commons/Johannes Thiel)
Illustrative Picture. (Photo: Creative Commons/Johannes Thiel)

Elementary school! Our memories include recess, minimal work and crayons. But there were some vital lessons you learned in that place. Yet, in all the hustle and bustle of adult life, you may have forgotten some of the most important lessons.

Here’s a reminder, and what those lessons mean for the struggle against radical Islam.


1.No Take-sie Back-sies

This is one of the most important life lessons of all. You can’t take anything back. No one can. For better or worse, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, Osama Bin Laden ordered the terror attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11 and Hillary Clinton failed to reinforce the embassy in Benghazi.

The past cannot be changed just because we don’t like something that happened. We have to come to terms with the reality of the world and move forward proactively, not waste time arguing about whether or not the current instability in Pakistan is really the fault of British imperialists who have been dead for nearly a 100 years.

Accepting what has happened is the first step to deciding how you want to react to it.


2.Finders Keepers Losers Weepers

One of the more brutal facts of life, this one underscores the unfairness of the world. The Gulf States have the oil and therefore they have the money. They found it and they kept it. The fact they have used that money (in part) to fund extremism worldwide is what they chose to do with it.

The same goes for the current borders of countries. Pretty much every state on the planet has committed war crimes at least once. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire was a complete mess that saw many groups disenfranchised.

But today it doesn’t necessarily make sense to alter national borders and radically restructure societies. In many cases, doing so would require massive amounts of force and risk killing many innocent people. In those cases, the winners may not deserve what they have. But they are probably going to get to keep it, and we have to accept that.

Supporting incremental change to improve human rights is often going to be a better bet than “regime change.”


3.It’s Just a Small Minority Ruining it For the Rest of Us

Remember that time the teacher kept everyone behind after class because one kid put a whoopee cushion on his chair? That’s how Muslims feel right now. It only takes a small number of committed ideologues to wreak global havoc.

But just like with the whoopee cushion, because it can be very difficult to tell who is radical and who isn’t until it’s too late, it can be easy to fall into the trap of lashing out at Muslims collectively. Of course, this only improves in-group solidarity against the unfair punishment, just like how you resented Mr. Collins for making you stay an hour after school on the first day of snow when you didn’t even have anything to do with that whoopee cushion.

This is why it’s important to isolate the political ideology of radical Islam specifically, rather than unfairly demonize Muslims as a whole.

These three life lessons are foundational to life in general and the struggle against radical Islam.



Don’t Pay the Pain Forward

Why a Small Minority Can Ruin it For the Rest of Us

Poll Results: Should Radical Islam Be Criminalized?


Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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