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The public has recognized that Corporate, Chamber of Commerce Republicans,
and Wall Street Democrats
are the same party, and serve the same constituency,
and it’s NOT THEM.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Unshakable Determination In The Face Of Islamic Terror

AT THE TURN of the 21st century, a lot of people were scared. The media went crazy. It was amazing. Everybody was talking about what might happen, and nobody knew for sure — computer systems worldwide might crash. Governments would crumble. There would be riots, looting, food shortages.

Two days before January first, the mania was at its peak and I was talking to a friend's son, Nolan. He was nine years old at the time and he was very worried about what was going to happen. The doom was impending. In two days, he worried, his whole world could crumble.

I looked at him seriously, and made sure I had his full attention. "Nolan, I want you to remember what I'm about to say for the rest of your life. Whenever you see a lot of scary predictions on television, I want you to remember what's about to happen. Two days from now, when nothing much happens, I want you to remember that I told you nothing was going to happen."

"How do you know nothing's going to happen?" he asked.

"I've seen it before. Just before you were born, the United States fought the Gulf War. Iraq had invaded Kuwait and the United States gave them a deadline. Iraq had to pull out of Kuwait or the U.S. military were going to force them out."

"I've heard of the Gulf War."

"Probably something you didn't hear about was what happened during that waiting period, because everybody was pretty sure Saddam Hussein was not going to pull out. The media went nuts. There were military experts on TV showing charts and graphs proving that the United States military forces were going to be crushed if they tried to evict Iraq's soldiers. The Iraqis had 4000 tanks, or something like that, and we only had 1100. They had this and they had that. The U.S. was outnumbered, outgunned, had very few experienced soldiers (while Iraq had lots of battle-hardened men), etc. It scared a lot of people. Seriously. Lots of people were worried that we'd send our soldiers in there and they'd get massacred. But what happened?"

"We won."

"That's right," I said, "and the U.S. not only won, but the difference between what the pessimists predicted and what actually happened was shocking. At the end of the war, when General Schwarzkopf sat down with Iraq's General to sign the surrender, everyone discovered the true one-sidedness of the war.

"The first thing Schwarzkopf did was exchange prisoners of war. Iraq had captured 17 American soldiers. The Iraqis were shocked when Schwarzkopf told them America had over sixty thousand Iraqi soldiers. An astounding ratio.

"I don't know who those 'experts' were, but they either didn't know what they were talking about, or they were trying to scare us. Or maybe they just wanted to avoid war."

A few weeks later, I saw Nolan again and he looked sheepish, but a little wiser about the pessimism of the news media.

Nolan is not alone, of course. Pessimism is easy. Because of the brain's natural tendency toward pessimism, and the bias of the news media, it takes a concerted effort to prevent discouragement, especially for those of us learning about jihad.

But it takes more than effort. You have to know what to do. You can't prevent discouragement by sheer effort. You cannot stay motivated by will power. This is the topic I was working on before 9/11. I had spend many years researching the topic of defeatism.

I originally began by studying success. What makes someone successful? Why are some people successful and others with equal brains or opportunities not successful? My conclusion was that successful people are able to persist in the face of setbacks, and the unsuccessful feel defeated and give up, even in small ways. But those small defeats add up. It kills motivation. It ruins enthusiasm. And eventually, the goal doesn't seem worth trying for any more.

So what causes some people to give up and some to keep trying? Digging into that question, I struck gold. And I found it in a place I didn't expect: In research on clinical depression.

One of the most innovative researchers into depression, Martin Seligman, eventually discovered that resilient people — people who bounce back from depression — think differently than people who don't. And the difference in their thinking is very specific.

Extending the studies even further, Seligman discovered that if you trained a depressed person to think like a resilient person, the depressed person becomes much less prone to depression. In a very real sense, it makes them immune to depression.

What is the difference? Would you guess it's positive thinking? If so, you'd be wrong. It's closer to anti-stupid thinking. Read more about it here: Morale For The Citizen Warrior. It is a method for finding certain kinds of mistakes in your thinking — mistakes that can lead to illegitimate feelings of discouragement.

Those of you who are learning about Islam and who find it depressing would do yourselves a favor by reading Seligman's best book: Learned Optimism. He teaches you exactly how to change the way you think so you are essentially inoculated against discouragement. Better yet, get the audiobook and listen to it ten times over the next six months while driving your car.

This is a vital issue. We need you fighting with us. Your own discouragement can take you out of the fight as thoroughly as a knife across your throat. And you need the anti-discouragement know-how if you wish to protect your friends and family from discouragement too.

The information is not difficult to master, and it will last a lifetime.

The ugly truths about Islamic fundamentalism can be scary. But it will only be discouraging if you make certain kinds of mistakes in your thinking. If you don't make those mistakes, the ugly truths about Islamic fundamentalism will make you motivated rather than discouraged. Learn more about it today, for the sake of us all.

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