Dec 27 2009
Both political fringes (or should I say all political fringes) have their mindless zealots. Everyone who thinks in simple absolutes (or should I say those who refuse to grapple with the complexities of the modern real world) is on a slippery slope, where their beliefs must be defended to the ultimate end.
I am not speaking of the few obvious absolutes shared by everyone, as in thou shalt not murder (which is not quite the same as thou shalt not kill). We accept a small, narrow set of absolute rules in order to create social structures for everyone to live in reasonable equality (we cannot make everyone genetically equal, but we can give everyone equal opportunities to push themselves to be their be best). Absolutes need to be kept to a minimum in order to maximize freedom of choice in all aspects life.
That is a concept those zealots on the fringes cannot accept, because it allows for things to happen they personally do not agree with. For example, from the liberal left we get restrictions on what is deemed ‘successful’, just as the far right is addicted to telling everyone what is good behavior.
America, and the world to some extent, is coming out of fog of believing in the need for absolutes in all areas of life. We are beginning to understand that the more absolutes there are, dictated by a self selected few, the worse off life is for everyone else. We have seen growing intolerance to personal choices, from what science means (think evolution, embryonic stem cell research and global warming) to what a good life is.
Some of the more bizarre absolutes are things like success in business is evil, being a religious leader (or just being religious) is evil, coming from Mexico and trying to find work here in the US is evil, being homosexual is evil. In reality all these actions or activities are not evil.
What we find is evil people can twist these actions/activities into evil results. We have the criminal business leaders who steal money and life savings from others. We have the Islamo Fascists who distill God’s will down to purging all non-believers from the face of the Earth. We have immigrant workers who go on violent crime sprees and we have those who prey on children for the sexual needs.
There is evil in every endeavor that is also good, because evil is the act of corrupting good for gain and revenge. It is why I cannot stand broad absolutes applied to any single group, country, race, sex, etc. The act of claiming a group of diverse people are evil, is in itself evil. A trick that leads to darkness.
The bomber who tried to kill hundreds of innocent people on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, MI on Christmas day is a prime example of how fringe thinking, in terms of overly simple absolutes,Â is actually the path to evil results:
With his wealth, privilege and education at one of Britain’s leading universities, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab had the world at his feet â€“ able to choose from a range of futures in which to make his mark on the world.
Instead, the son of one of Nigeria’s most important figures opted to make his impact in a very different way â€“ by detonating 80g of explosives sewn into his underpants, and trying to destroy a passenger jet as it came in to land at Detroit Airport on Christmas Day.
As he was charged by US authorities last night with attempting to blow up an airliner, a surprising picture emerged of the would-be bomber.
Abdulmutallab, 23, had lived a gilded life, and, for the three years he studied in London, he stayed in a Â£2m flat. He was from a very different background to many of the other al-Qa’ida recruits who opt for martyrdom.
I have seen this type of rebellious rich kid many times when growing up outside the halls of power in DC. It is a combination of insecurity (compared to the parents and their successful friends) and a keen sense of the suffering those of meager means must endure. At a young age, with optimism brimming over, people don’t like to think that being poor, in many cases, is due to a series of bad life choices. Many of the poor are not the product of society, but instead are the product of failed families or a personal unwillingness to work at building a good life.
Then you hit bad economic times like we have now, and many who work hard are caught up in the destructive decisions of incompetent leaders. This can add to the impression that success is evil because now more ‘innocents’ are being hurt.
Even worse, the current economic crisis and the lack of correction can surely be laid at the feet of idiotic liberal policies that set up our financial institutions to fail and have produced nothing but massive debt as an emergency response. This makes the insecure rich kid even more angry with his lot in life as those around him fail to help those in need while still toasting their personal riches. Being on the other side of the gilded gate does not always shield someone from the pain and suffering out in the streets.
Into this confused mind comes the absolutes of the zealots. Islamo Fascism co-opts absolutes from all sides of the political spectrum – its siren song to those susceptible. It adopts the religious zealotry from the right, and it also adopts the socialist-liberal dictum that personal success is evil. It is this left wing hate of personal success, which is the cornerstone of American society, that shields the conscience of the terrorist from facing the fact their victims are simple people, most not wildly successful or rich. For the terrorists, innocents must be sacrificed in order to purge the world of the evils of personal responsibility, freedom and the potential for incredible personal success.
It is a strange and powerful combination of the worst in western thinking.
I sincerely hope all humanity sees the root of the evil that keeps sweeping and devastating humanity. It is the evil that can arise from needing to believe in the absolutes that frame your views to the point where you are willing to destroy those who do not agree with you. If you are willing to financiallyÂ destroy people who differ with you, to strip them of their success, then you are also willing to destroy them physically. The seeds of evil begin with the willingness to ruin someone’s life to the point they lose their home, their children’s futures are at risk, that they cannot have a modicum of success. If you can do that much damage to someone, then you are already well on the way to being able to physically harm them as well. It is a short step of frustration and anger to becoming pure evil.
We need to stop piling up ever finer absolutes, because this just puts a myriad of wedges between people who could normally live along side each other for perpetuity. We don’t need politically correct anything. We don’t need to define the maximum successful salary, the minimum wage for a part time entry job, the proper skin color or background, the allowable religions to be shared in schools, the best education, etc. The fringe thinking of the zealots is what is leading to all this violence and hate and suffering.
And remember, each one of those zealots thinks they are on the side of good, a warrior against their evil opponents. Each and every one of them, which is how they fell down that slippery slope in the first place.