Question for the New Year
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Question for the New Year • Posted: Jan 04, 2016 11:37:21Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

The human brain is entirely inadequate at times. We want simple understandable actionable answers to very very complex issues. And when simple isn’t readily forthcoming, in frustration, we are prone to try something simple anyway. And hope for the best. The amount of times that strategy actually works is probably minimal. On the other hand, depending upon how astute one is, trying something can and sometimes does suggest an actual productive and effective direction to take.

Anyway, like a great many of us, I’ve been puzzled by the willingness of Islamist militants to martyr themselves in so many imprecise ways. Targets and victims very often have no rational connection to anything. I mean, why blow up a market loaded with fellow Muslims? Why shoot up a cafe of fellow young people, some just as unemployed and frustrated with things as they are? Why down an airliner with children on board? Who are they seeing as enemy in those cases? There are no easy to hate politicians, bankers, business executives, or soldiers involved. So, my question is, who is the real enemy being struck at?

Maybe I fall into the trap of seeking too simple an answer to something way more complex, but I think back to a recent article wherein mercenaries were interviewed, people who have volunteered or hired themselves out to fight, mostly with the Kurds, against ISIS. Within that article one interviewee described his odd take on both the people he was fighting with and against. He described them as having a rather obsessive preoccupation with viewing and masturbating to porn delivered over their cell phones.

Shocking? Perhaps. But think about that for a second. We all have urges. However, for a great many of us, culture and upbringing have taught us, cultivated within us, the facility for self-restraint. But what happens when such mentoring is absent? What happens when later in life one is introduced to religious teachings and is confronted with the realization that one does not have the needed facility to comply with those teachings? Might one begin to suspect one’s self as irredeemably unclean and evil? Might one begin to blame the larger society for the irrepressible temptations it thrusts upon us? Might one seize upon the single redeeming path suggested by religions clerics and ISIS propagandists, martyrdom, in self-sacrificing strike against anything and everything that is evil? In other words, are not those would be martyrs blowing themselves up because they believe both themselves and society to be so irredeemably filthy no better solution exists than to blot both themselves and society off the face of the Earth?

Yes, a kind of simple minded suggestion. There is no proof, none that I have at least. But what if the simple but effective solution is to offer a path to redemption other than martyrdom? Perhaps something like Catholic confession and penance??

And the thing is, it isn’t just Muslims who can suffer in this way, feeling there is no hope for their personal redemption. Many strict Protestant congregates suffer similarly. And don’t forget those who have joined cults. Remember the Koresh cult in Waco TX? And the problem likely occurs amongst Orthodox Jews too.

People are people. They have urges. They also have a desire to be accepted. They need help from all of us, from parents, teachers, peers, religious leaders, neighborhood police, the press, employers, and elected officials, to somehow find a way to both control urges and be accepted.

Simple minded, perhaps. But wouldn’t it make for an exceptional year ahead if all the troubled people of this world received the help they need to be both self-restrained and meaningfully accepted?

Thursday, January 13th, 2011