Cradles, Car Bombs And The Communal Soul
January 16, 2008
A good part of our lives are spent trying to control our destinies, immediate and long term. Controlling our destinies means guaranteed outcomes and no surprises. That is the real origin of the fairy tale, that somehow, if we could exert a little more control, the ‘greener grass’ is ours for the taking.
Nevertheless, whatever choices we make in the futile attempt into deluding ourselves that we can control every facet of of lives, there is always one nagging reality; in the back of our minds, we wonder about those choices to which we commit ourselves. There is always that gnawing doubt, about the road not taken, the path not seen, or what might have been.
That kind of reflection is uniquely human.
For most of us, there is one exception to those doubts and critical self examination, one truth that we know is unshakable. There is one thing that we do not wish to control- the love we have for our children. It is perfect. On the best days, with that infant or toddler there is no question about the depth of that love. Even on our worst days, there is no question about the depth of that love. No parent would return their baby to the hospital nursery in exchange for another.
This love is the most natural of all loves. Every newborn is completely dependent on their parents. The natural instinct of parents is to respond to those needs, regardless of race or creed, religion or ethnicity. A parent- any parent, anywhere, cannot look into the eyes of an infant and not feel protective. Of course, that is how it is supposed to be. That has been our nature from the beginning.
Out of necessity, our own imperfections become clear and less clouded, because with the desire to do things right for our children, our limitations and failings must be dealt with. Parenting every single day, offer us the chance to better ourselves by being better parents. It is a unique situation. The thoughts, ideas and definitions of which we were so sure of, change- sometimes, drastically. When the who and why of your parents and childhood come into clearer focus and overnight, much is understood.
If these are truths are undeniable, how does it come to pass that some societies embrace, produce and then come to celebrate terrorists? Have you ever noticed that failed societies and societies that produce terrorists are societies where violence in an acceptable form of political expression?
After the Paris riots, publishing of the infamous Mohammad cartoons and the Bhutto assassination, entire populations went on a wild rampage. Hordes of out of control people caused massive destruction to private and public property.
The destruction of property is not a display of anger, disagreement, mourning or courage. It is an unequivocal display of political, moral and social immaturity. It is also a public acknowledgment of the complete lack of a mature and healthy value system. Livelihoods that support generations of families are destroyed in the frenzy of violence.
It would be easy to say that the terrorists are produced out of frustration when a community implodes from neglect or indifference. We often feel sorry for people who are overwhelmed with poverty and despotic governments that have social systems stacked against them. The Palestinians are a classic example of that mythology- a mythology that is carefully nursed. Of course, nothing is further from the truth. Sadly, corrupt regimes and failed social systems are found the world over. Nevertheless, it is clear that very few of those societies produce suicide bombers. There are no Cubans lining up to be ‘martyrs.’
Why is that? Because in truth, terror is not brought on by poverty. Hostages are not taken and held, to be traded for economic aid. Planes aren’t flown into buildings in response to GDP of the free markets of the western world versus the GDP of the many tyrannies of the Muslim world. In fact, the terrorists aims are deliberately misrepresented. The terrorists don’t want to see western values and successes brought into the Muslim world. Indeed, that is what they are fighting against. Religious freedoms, abortion rights, gay rights and human rights are anathema to radical Islamist ideologies. That ideology demands the murder of those whose behavior they find offensive- usually administred in a cruel and brutal fashion. These are truths many manage to forget.
What serves to undermine a society and thus the natural order of things, is an agenda calculated to do just that. Whether it is political or religious, a shrewdly devised agenda will do just that.
It was a clever agenda, devised under Mao, that fueled the ‘Cultural Revolution.’ Millions of teenage and young adult students tore through the Chinese countryside and destroyed the vestiges of a mosaic of thousand year old cultures. It was a similar ideology that was used by Stalin, as children learned to inform on their parents and that same ideology worked for Hitler. As millions of Germans filled stadiums screaming loyalty to the Aryan races and the Hitler’s plan to clarify and codify the Aryan God’s plan for mankind.
If the terrorists, their supporters and apologists really wanted to better the lives of their own, they would use America and the west as a model for success. They would not seek to destroy those countries. They would not seek to destroy the freedoms that brought that success.
Further, eliminating poverty does not and cannot change a mindset. Economic status does not determine morality and codes of conduct. Only values, born of dignity and the recognition that all men and women are of equal value, determines morality and codes of conduct. It is an ideology that drives people to exceed their potential for good. And it is an ideology that drives people to hate and destroy. Those ideas are not determined by economic status. Terror is driven by an ideology of evil, period. Societies and cultures that embrace those values are broken societies and cultures.
The hopes and dreams of millions of parents are destroyed by these unnatural agendas. Their children were not children- they were fodder for a political agenda.
One can only imagine the heartbreak of parents who understood that was supposed to be their right and privilege- to be parents, hoping to empower their children to reach for what was possible. Those rights, hopes and dreams were taken away and there was nothing they could do about that. In what is the natural order of things, parents were usurped in the name of a government agenda. Out of a selfish need to self perpetuate, nature was obviated.
It is no different with the culture and society that produces terrorists, supports terror and apologizes for terror.
The radical Islamists, like the Stalinists, Maoists and Nazis before them, steal children from their parents. They are indoctrinated with hate and indifference to life, in schools and institutions that are designed to amplify the most unnatural of instincts- that the state can replace parents.
The Stalinists, Maoists and Nazis were political ideologues. As such, they could only offer visions of an unknown future, defined as whatever the Great Leader decided the future might be. The radical Islamists have religion as their vehicle, and they offer more than conjecture- they offer sanitized and scripted visions of a romanticized, thousand year past. All that is there for the taking, again, if only they were worthy, as if the glories of a thousand years ago would be meaningful in today’s world. To be worthy, they are told, they must kill. To be dominant, they must exert strength brutally. That is the wish of God.
When Muslim parents reclaim their responsibilities and the natural order of things, much will change. It won’t be easy- the Islamists have hijacked not only the schools and in many cases, governments but by definition, the religion as well. The truth is that we cannot do it for them- they have to do it for themselves. They are learning that they cannot buy their way out of their malaise. Certainly, they are learning that they cannot talk their way out of reality as well. The Danish cartoon affair was a wake up call for many Muslims. They are at a crossroads. All the ‘meaningful exchanges,’ all the proclamations of Islam as a ‘religion of peace,’ only serve to highlight the Islamic Emperor’s wardrobe. Poetic and eloquent words expended that apologize for groups, organizations and charities purporting to do good works, but in reality, are fronts for killing machines, can in no way cleanse the communal soul.
Islam reclaiming it’s future has nothing to do our foreign policy, Israel or anything external. If Muslims truly want to reclaim their faith, they need to start at home and reclaim parenting- real parenting.
Freedom is antithetical to terrorism because freedom usurps the power of the terrorist. With out the power to instill fear and punishment, the terrorist is nothing. Our freedoms, success and ever growing potential are what the terrorist must destroy. Prosperity is the terrorists fifth column. They cannot abide by a culture that is prosperous, because that culture seeks growth and progress. That is what they fear most- a prosperous people with hope for themselves and even greater hope for their children.
The biblical tale of Abraham and Isaac is instructive. Now matter how willing his servant is, God does not allow Abraham to sacrifice his son.
God does not demand from Abraham that he obviate his role as a parent. He insists rather, that Abraham resume his natural role as a parent. God does not need Abraham’s son as a sacrifice as a sign of fidelity.
Whether you read the story as literal or allegorical, the message is a powerful one.