Human beings are weak at heart, especially when they are over-shadowed by the cultural environment they find themselves in. There are five stages of social impact on the individual, which determines whether they are of moderate dispositions or plunging towards extremism.

Extremism and Human Development.

The stage of innocence which is characterized by early childhood which is the stage of conscious learning. This is where the individual observes and imitates significant others and internalizes customs and behaviors. He takes on roles assigned to him or her by society and is bound by the norms. At this stage, the individual may not be able to challenge the status-quo as he or she is obliged to adhere strictly to the guidelines of standardized behavior as laid down by the society.

The next stage is that of Integration, when the norms and values become part of the individual personality. The individual finds joy, fulfillment and a sense of belonging as a result of his or her membership of the corporate social entity. He or she lives to maintain the hitherto constructed norms, seeks the survival of society by adhering to the norms and upholding the structures. He or she is aware of the consequences of deviant behaviors and is bound by the instruments of social control.

Immersion into Extremism.

When the individual is overshadowed by the society he or she becomes blinded by any negativity or contradictions of the social group where he belongs, he is said to be at the stage of immersion and such people could be dangerous. He is ready to put his life on the line to defend the group and ensure there is no aggression or foreign threats. To such a person, everything about the group is good and desirable. Symbols such as flags, gestures, chants, arts and music, and other forms of social identifiers are evidence of immersion. At this stage, others outside the system are seen as ‘they’, although not as an enemy until it gets to the final stage;

Extremism.

The stage of extremism is characterized by outburst and the enemy is defined, targeted and attacked. The ideological basis of this outburst must have developed over time. To extremists, the agenda is to embark on war and defeat the enemy. The availability of the means of unleashing their antagonistic doctrines such as political power, guns, nuclear weapons, economic sabotage and financial resources such as oil and gas, often determines how far they go in implementing their furious orgy on society or on the world.

This was the spirit behind Hitler’s avowed commitment to exterminating the Jews, the spirit behind Boko Haram, IRA, Al Qaeda, ISIS, KKK and other acclaimed religious extremist groups in history, where the blood of humans is the reward for paradise. Extremism is further aggravated by social inequalities, strains in economic opportunities, power struggle, and immersion into explicit writings of the articles of faith; a charismatic religious or society leader who brainwashes the faithful to become conscious of the ‘enemy’.

Religious writings have been very effective in breeding terror groups in history, while other sources of extremism include political ideologies, ethnic and sectarian agenda. Extremists are ready to inflict pains, commit suicide and shed innocent blood in the hope of a ‘paradise’ or for the promise of a wealth and economic or political liberation. We must hence constantly check if indeed we are not gradually plunging into abyss with our group mind. #Education #World Politics #Terrorism