The Opposite of Terrorism: Elevationism

The recent World Congress for the International Positive Psychology Association happened immediately following the horrific terrorist attacks that occurred in Norway, taking the lives of dozens of people and devastating many many more.  As I mentioned last week, a comment was made at the congress that “if one person can do this much bad in the world, imagine how much good we could all do together.”

It’s a beautiful sentiment and it makes me think of starting my own clandestine group to create disruption in the world.  But rather than creating death, destruction and mayhem, we would create beauty, peace and happiness.  What would you call a group like this?  How would you define the opposite of terrorism?

So far, the best word I have come up with is “elevationism.”  Rather than create terror, we could try and produce disrupting events that would elevate people, lifting their spirits and reminding them of their higher purpose.  We could create an elevationist organization that would sneak into airports and corporate offices with messages of love and transformation.  We could park cars filled with roses in busy urban areas.  We could hijack busloads of children and take them on an adventure of learning, wonderment and altruism.

I have been so depressed lately by so many stories of man’s inhumanity to man in the news.  In the past few weeks, not only did a gunman open fire on a group of innocent people in Norway, but a young boy’s body was found hacked to pieces in the freezer of a home in a quiet crime-free religious community neighborhood.  A teenage boy was doused in lighter fluid and set on fire by his mother’s boyfriend.  Thousands of refugees in Somalia fleeing drought and famine are barred from getting aid by militant terrorist groups.  I get a knot in my stomach just thinking about the depths of depravity observed even in just the past two weeks.  

It is hard for me to understand how people can believe that hurting other people is the solution to their problems.  When there are so many real problems facing humanity (disease, hunger, population, global warming) it seems like such a waste of time and energy to provide anything but love and support to our fellow humans.  More than ever, we should be coming together and not tearing each other apart. 

But rather than being anti-war or anti-terrorism, it is time to define what we are for.  It is time to create a Department of Peace instead of a Department of War.  It is time to reward and appreciate those exemplars of good global citizenship, rather than punish those whose views are different their own.  It is not enough to fight terrorist organizations, we need to create some elevationist organizations of our own.

So here is what we need to start our elevationist organization: 

1. Investors who want to fund some positive disruption in the world.  Who will back a new world order based on peace and love? 

2.  Some hidden training camps where our elevationist techniques can be taught to eager young soldiers who are willing to fight for a brighter future. 

3.  A small group of people willing to make great sacrifices for the betterment of civilization.

So who’s ready to enlist?  The elevationist revolution wants you!

16 Responses to The Opposite of Terrorism: Elevationism

  1. Stacy (@TheZenGirl) August 2, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Wow Jeremy, what an inspiring article. Admittedly, I avoid mainstream news because of my sensitivity level and knowing how much the sadness and negativity affects me when I hear about it. However, just because I am avoiding hearing it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    I love your “what if” approach. To think of the possibilities with elevationism! It makes so much more sense. What we really need is self-awareness and true loving kindness to permeate humanity. Yes, we all have egos but we all make a choice as to how much we let our insecurities, fears, judgements and baggage dump out on a person, community or country. Can you imagine what the world would be like if the critical mass made choices in a place of love instead of fear?

    Count me in. Next on the list…Elevationism in Wikipedia! Thanks for the article.

  2. Patrick August 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    You may have created a new word! (you’ve been busy!). Sign me up. Not sure about the hi-jacking the school bus thing though, some parents might over react.

  3. Marie-Josee Shaar August 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    Great concept, and great terminology! A few questions…

    – You’re talking about soldiers willing to fight, but who’s the enemy here? Terrorists? Mal de vivre (French opposite of joie de vivre)?

    – Not sure about the hidden camps thing… why not make them bright, bold and highly visible? I think that may enhance the ripple effect.

    – Not sure that sacrifice is what we’d need either… Elevationism would create profound joy for the perpetrators and their close ones – a huge boost in happiness. So why the need for great sacrifices?

    My book is soon coming out. I’m looking for an appropriate charity to whom I will give a % of the sale of every book. If elevationism is indeed created, I can be an investor! 😉

    Very best,

  4. Jeremy McCarthy (@jeremymcc) August 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Hi Marie-Josee,

    Somebody else just emailed me those exact same questions!

    The “soldiers willing to fight” and “hidden” parts are really just playing off the idea that there are secret terrorist training camps, so I like the idea of people conspiring in secret to do good in the world. Sure, you could do it out in the open, but using the terrorist analogy, it’s fun to imagine a group of people who swoop in do a good deed and then disappear anonymously.

    “Soldiers willing to fight” gets at the passion and dedication to the cause that is required. Sure, anybody can do a good deed, but are you willing to strap a love bomb to your chest and walk into a building, sacrificing your life so that thousands of others can flourish. I realize, to your point, this might not be necessary, but the fact that there are people and organizations in this world that are so passionately committed to causing others harm, I’m wondering if we could get people equally committed to doing good.

    As for sacrifice, I do think it requires people to make a commitment and sacrifice either time or money or both to invest in an idea like this. If it was easy, people would already be doing it. I think most people in the world want to do the right thing . . . as long as its convenient. A real shift happens when people are willing to do the right thing when it’s not.

    Thanks for reading and engaging!

  5. Jeremy McCarthy (@jeremymcc) August 2, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    On the other hand, I may be a bit over-zealous on the hijacking a bus full of school kids. We might have to have the parents sign a waiver before we commit that act of elevationism. 🙂

  6. Marie-Josee Shaar August 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    All good points, Jeremy!

  7. charles wills August 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    All of us empathists here feel this pain in the world today…I would guess this is our bond here..

    John Hagelin has been a mentor of mine since “What The Bleep”

    Watch Dr. Hagelin’s talk “A New Science of Peace: The Effects of Group Meditation on Crime, Terrorism, and International Conflict” at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) conference on February 18, 2007—

    Hope you all Love his thoughts as you Love the ones here at Jeremy’s blog.

  8. Jeremy McCarthy (@jeremymcc) August 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    A couple of other “elevationist” organizations I have heard from as a result of this blog: One is “The Levity Project” at a group promoting laughter in random urban settings. I love their ideas of “micro movements” see the video of getting people to dance in their cars around the world.

    Another one comes from a dear friend of mine Kristi Konieczny who comes from the spa industry. Her and two friends have been traveling around the country in an Airstream promoting health and wellness. One of her co-pilots, Kate Sornson commented on last weeks article saying how lucky she was to be a part of an elevationist organization. Their website is

    I’m registering in case anyone wants to help me create a database where we can track these elevationist organizations around the globe!

  9. JoAnna Brandi August 7, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    What a great start!

    Although I agree the language needs a little finessing – the concept is sound. And by the way there ARE little pockets of this happening all over the world. From my little corner in the business sector, to revolutionaries like Jenny Fox Eades in England in education and all the leaders in the IPPA community.

    I wasn’t able to attend this year but work every day to ELEVATE in as many places as I can. I do see it happening, little bit at a time.

    As train more and more leaders at work, in education and medicine to focus their attention on the amplifying the good, as we work towards the ambitious 5:1 ratio (for high performance) we’ll make a strong positive difference – despite what’s going on now.

    We are certainly on the road.
    In good company.

  10. Mary Jane Boholst August 11, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    Hi there,
    In light of the recent London riots, I can’t help but feel we need more Elevationism here in London, England. As I watched the news coverage I felt despair coming over me and found this article brought the hope back to me and making me smile. So thank you.
    Anything that seeks to make the world a better place without using violence gets my vote!
    Take care,
    Mary Jane

  11. Jeremy McCarthy August 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Thank you Mary Jane! It means a lot to me to know that my words may have had some positive impact in an area that definitely needs a boost right now. Another “elevationist” organization you may be interested in is Action for Happiness (a movement to increase happiness based in the U.K.). They recently posted an article on riots as a symptom of the need for increased happiness in society: Would love to hear your thoughts on what they are doing!

  12. Mary Jane Boholst August 16, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    Hi Jeremy,
    Thanks for the link to Action for Happiness. It’s a great movement. Thanks for the link and your reminder of the good in the world.
    Take care,
    Mary Jane

  13. Michael Sanger August 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Two thoughts came when I saw this. First, I have a website devoted to TOOT (The Opposite Of Terrorism.) We started TOOT by having fund-raising parties for non-profit organizations shortly after 9/11/2001.

    Second, and more closely to what you are suggesting, is The Belgium train station dance video – . I don’t know if you system will let me have this link in the body of the email, but if not, just search on Belgium train station dance. Those folks are doing exactly what you suggest.

    And good luck.

  14. Jeremy McCarthy August 26, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Greetings Michael! Thank you so much for your comment. I love that you have been promoting TOOT, “The Opposite of Terrorism”. It is nice to know that other people are thinking along these lines. I’m curious what your plans are for TOOT and your website. Is it something you are still trying to grow?

    I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the name (maybe you would consider adopting “Elevationism?”) I think it is better to name it after what you want to promote rather than what you want to avoid (exactly why I was thinking of this in this article.)

    When Mother Teresa was asked why she doesn’t participate in anti-war demonstrations she said, “I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

    The belgian train station video is absolutely awesome! Thanks!


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