#Religion #Politics #Economics, Oh My! the Lure of the Inevitable…

Screen Shot 2013-03-24 At 6.29.27 PmWhy do guys—and girls—join groups like ISIL and Boko Haram and Al-Shabab? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that it is much the same reason that a generation ago they (we) were joining the Weathermen, the Red Guards, Charles Manson and God-knows-who-all? He ain’t telling…

For one thing we all want to be on the right side of history, correct? So there’s that. But more than that I think we want to create the right side of history, i.e. get it right, for once and for all. Call me an incurable romantic and unbridled idealist, but I truly think that many, if not most of us, truly want to make the world a better place and are searching hard for the best means of going about that in some rational coherent truthful and esthetically pleasing way, and unwilling to accept the lure of racism and hatred and the reductio ad absurdum that “might makes right.” It doesn’t.

Of course the players have changed much since the pseudo-communistic stylings of our 60’s and 70’s Western forebears as inspired by Marx, Lenin and Che on a good day. Now many of those revolutionaries are silent, if not silenced, and their grandsons and granddaughters gorge themselves on iPhone chat and buzz-feed just like any other normal healthy youngsters, the previous knee-jerk rejection of our own affluence now nothing more than a shallow reflection of our youthful inclination for school-taught idealism and the exuberance of hedonism on the installment plan, enjoy now pay later…

In dog years, those were our college days, civilization’s that is, twenty-one and counting, young and full of it, ready to bend worlds and wills to our liking, and assuming that nothing could be easier. Disaffected Western youth ruled the moment as only one particular group in any given zeitgeist can. It was ‘our time.’ Subsequent computer revolutionaries and keyboard warriors can make similar claim to some effect. The former were building on political foundations laid down a half-century before while the latter were building on Industrial Revolutionary foundations laid down a century before, the modern dialectic.

But religion is part of this political/economic dialectic, too, so call it a trialectic if you will, no tied scores. The Christian West still gets it up for a good fight over abortion, but the main religious movement these days is with the Islamic jihadis. And while I don’t think they actually fit the prescribed mold of “rational coherent truthful and esthetically pleasing,” still I do think they honestly believe they’re doing the right thing, not inherently evil as commonly portrayed. Couldn’t you say the same the same things about drone strikes? Palestine? Fracking?  They do.  For better or worse, they own the political zeitgeist. It’s ‘their time’…. or so they feel…

The rewards of this material existence are many but shallow—smart-phones Apple watches and Google cars only give so much pleasure before boredom and rot set in. There is as much pleasure in the smile of a child or in helping a friend than there are in all of the gadgets in Best Buy or Target. And you can wear it on your wrist or on your eyes, and still you only have children’s toys to keep you warm at night (though the technology it represents may indeed be profound, life-changing and earth-shattering).

I’m not the only one who knows this. Thus people revert to the love of their pets as human relations become belligerent and sour, as the rise of Petco in the strip malls proceeds apace. And jihadis try to save souls while bending the world to fit their ends, in the rough wilderness, just like a generation of Cuban barbudos before them. Ironically there just may be common cause between freedom-loving Westerners and caliphate-loving jihadis.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jihadis are not the ones destroying the planet by enviro-cide. Westerners are, and as soon as we admit that, and deal with it, then healing can proceed apace. Until we stop demonizing them, and see the equality of error in our own ways, then we are doomed to live and die by the sword. If a just peace can be accomplished, then we can proceed with the larger task: saving the species. Best good start is for someone to articulate a future without cars. Garden cities, anyone?

And don’t fall into the hubristic trap of denial. A Mideast jobs program will not cure all ills any more than imposing our ‘freedoms’ upon them. They don’t love our freedoms. They’re disgusted by them, as are many Westerners, too, or were, at least. Drunkenness? Murder? Pornography? Prostitution? No, thanks. How about if I put some high-tech into those future garden cities? Hmm, looking better now, isn’t it? Tech is enviro-friendly. Stay tuned…

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