What is there about extreme religious fanaticism that brings out the basest, most savage behavior in human beings, who otherwise at least seem like peaceful, productive individuals? The weapons used by modern religious fanatics are still, despite guns and bombs, the same old methods of persecution through the dark, evil motives in deeds as old as history, going back to rituals of sacrifice and shedding blood for beliefs that have absolutely no material presence or confirmation in this world. The basic tenet of this “thinking” is, “Because you don’t believe exactly what I believe, I’m going to kill you, or make your life as miserable as I can in the name of my god.” The Allah of ISIS is certainly not the Allah for the rest of Islam. After their murderous sprees, the members if ISIS always shout, “God is great,” but one can’t help but wonder to what kind of cruel, insensitive, primitive deity they pray. Apparently this “god” is a figment of their own dark, broken imaginations and lusts for power, a power which they see only in terms of destruction and death.
The actual motives are based often upon fear, need for complete control over other people, and an awful terror that others might be living pleasant, meaningful, independent lives under different sets of “rules” that may contradict the persecutors’ rigid, oppressive, or even impossible laws of human behavior. In fact, such irrational, barbaric reactions to the happiness of others has nothing at all to do with a god of any name or type of devotion to anything but a severely stunted view, so narrow that it excludes any life outside its vacuum of hate, terror, and a twisted fear that someone might be experiencing some sensory comfort or other moment of joy. This has always been true of the dogmatic, confined convictions of any fundamentalist religious sect. It is still true, to some extent, even in our own country, minus the bombs. A wag once wrote that the Puritans were a group of religious people who lived in fear that somewhere someone might be having a good time. That mentality led to the Salem witch trials of 1692, but modern fanatics like those associated with ISIS use guns and body bombs instead of Bibles to persecute, murder, or maim those who don’t fit into the thimble-sized, airless world of slaughtering one’s way to paradise, a concept so foreign to most people that it must be labeled “psychotic,” not “religious.” The events in Paris last January and this week have demonstrated the treachery and cowardice of hatred disguised as religious faithfulness or devotion, a treachery for which human life means less than nothing. If there is any good news regarding such unbridled madness, it is that such dictatorial and inhuman behavior will burn itself out, because it has nothing to offer but invisible pie in the sky rewards at the cost of all joy and compassion in this world. People are not lab rats that can be forced into inane beliefs that deny the freedom the human spirit craves as much as oxygen itself. The self-appointed lunatics who see themselves as enforcers of such ugly lies upon the human soul are fighting a losing battle. Their beliefs have nothing to do with real Islam or any other religious doctrine. Their entire existence is a desperate sham.
The world will not bow to such colossal stupidity that offers nothing but the guarantee of a crushed spirit and unspeakable misery. No, there will never be multitudes of people flocking to join the ranks under such a monstrous lie, devoid of hope, meaning, or beauty. Those few who do follow such a blind, hateful creed will be only the few who have an abiding hatred of humanity and the world itself, and even for themselves in their quest for some kind of identity, and who find some terrible appeal in pain and destruction for everyone around them. The distinctions between religious fervor and mindless, wanton cruelty have blurred in their own minds but have become crystal clear once again to the rest of the world, a world now uniting as never before to fight against this senseless evil to make sure that civilization and love itself are strengthened and protected, not in the name of some horrible abstraction but in the name of healing the real world for all its people. JB