Among the myriad fears and apprehensions inherent to life in these chaotic times, the threat of ‘Jihad’ reins omnipresent. It is beamed into our consciousness daily, reminding us that we may at any moment be wiped out by hateful and demented foreigners who seek only our blood.
It’s not an encouraging thought.
Defined according to my loose understanding (and if anyone has a greater skill for this, please share in the comments), ‘Jihad’ refers to the duty of Muslims to maintain their religion. This can be represented in many forms, and by the Islamic Extremists represented under the ISIS banners and others—this is seen in a Holy War against the ‘Western World’.
This notion of Jihad, and especially the extreme form it takes under ISIS is a new kind of war. It’s a war of ideas. And at present, they are winning it. Each day we hear of more citizens packing up and leaving to throw their lot in with these ‘dangerous radicals’—giving up life and liberty in order to risk life and limb.
What drives this madness?
Jihad is a story of reactive hatred—of fear for what is perceived as a threat to one’s lifestyle. But it’s a story, a metaphor like any other belief system a human can settle upon. As we’ve discussed (Link), people need stories to find meaning in life, and while this can be a wonderful thing under the right circumstances, we also showed in the article ‘The Popular Misappropriation of Blame’ (Link) that belief systems are a reflection of circumstances, and in dire straits can easily turn to this sort of vengeful bloodlust.
Forming upon such considerations amidst the harsh climate and unforgiving politics of the middle-east, it’s understandable how such an angry ideology would serve. But one story interacts with another, and what exactly do these individuals see when they look upon the so-called ‘Western World’? The world of ‘Freedom’, ‘Democracy’, and ‘Capitalism’?
We claim to be democratic and free in the political sense, but there is no doubt our economic system overrides our political one (Link) . We are driven by corporations—greed and dominance. Growth through desolation. We spread like locusts, sapping the world of its resources to live in luxury while we send those beyond us spiralling into chaos. Meanwhile, our ideals are hung up in the impotent stories of political parties with little true control over our nation’s direction.
Pantomimes and parodies.
In the waning days of religion in the West, we have no Gods to look to for guidance. Yet we continually claim we can act morally without such ‘frivolities’. This is true of the individual to a certainty, but we are yet to prove that a nation without a great idea to stand behind can ever act righteously on the global scale. The freedom we boast of is a lie. And so are we.
Jihad is an idea, and ideas are only fought with better ideas. As we continue to drop bombs and glorify our struggle against terror with arms alone, we succeed only in strengthening the resolve of our enemy—doing nothing to increase the power of our own ideals. Like the Lernaean Hydra (Link) we cut one head off, and two more grow back.
No, the only way to win a war of ideas is with the very same. Rather than contenting ourselves with the dissemination of false ideals, we must begin to truly model them as well, and show what the freedom we boast about really means.
Right now, the realities of our society are witnessed all the more astutely by those without, and what a dismal image it strikes. To win the war against global extremism—be that ISIS or any other expression of it—we must combat it with our own, superior idea. We need to talk it, walk it, and live it in every sense.
But before we do that, we’d damn well better settle on exactly what that idea is…
-Brad OH Inc.