ISIS, ISIL, IS— Doesn’t Matter What You Call Them

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and had the chance to reflect on what they are thankful for. I know I did. One thing that is invaluable to me is my safety and the safety of all human beings. There is quite an accumulation of dialogue currently on terrorist acts, terrorist factions, and how best to combat them. This is outstanding. For those who have kept abreast with the current situations regarding recent attacks, conflicts, and refugee crises— this may be more of the same. Nevertheless, I still implore giving this a read and formulating your own thoughts into a cogent narrative that you can pass along to your circles. Given the opportunity to reflect on what really matters in life on our sanctimonious day of thanks, we should further reflect on how best to pay that gratitude forward in aiding our world. Enjoy.

I had to think when media erupted in an outcry of support over the most recent slew of attacks. I really had to think. Not about the tragedy itself, no those thoughts were self- evident. But more deeply: what do we do? What can I do? Why does this seem to happen at such an alarming rate? And how do we mitigate our knee- jerk reactions to point fingers, how do we avoid embracing the gripping-toxins of hatred, and how do we come to unified understanding and plan of action? These thoughts were consuming.

In lieu of the modern circumstances enclosing the issues of terrorism, I find it of high academic and societal value to promote dialogue throughout all tiers of the population. I think every on should some find some form of investment to pursue in times of travesty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of everyone has an opinion and it is not appropriate to impose on their stance— that’s preposterous. I think every claim need be subject to credulous, meticulous processes of scientific and philosophic scrutiny. If what you’re saying don’t fly with greater bodies of knowledge, then sorry, you’re opinion should remain in its own personal lockbox, justifiable only by some erroneous explanation fueled by ignorance.

This is also not my declaration that I am a leading expert on morality, global politics, or anything of the like. I merely propose everyone develop some well- informed perspectives on issues like terrorism among other things, and contribute to the interchange on complex issues.

We are all gifted with this platform known as the Internet to discuss, give, and take in a global exchange of ideas. It is imperative we treat this conduit with the respect it deserves and avoid the abhorrent acts of regurgitating whatever impulsive thoughts strike at any given moment. This stage allows for spur of momentous social and political change.

Here We Go Again

 Another terror attack, it has become a matter of time instead of an unlikely incident. Media only provides significant coverage to places such as France that are fortunate enough to not experience these ghastly events on a regular basis, but the reality of the situation is that many individuals and geographic regions experience similar calamities on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis.

So why can’t we stop this malicious cycle? I think the answer lies in what we do not consider. With every incident, we lament to the heavens— forsaking those monsters, those insidious beasts devout humanity. We condemn and we respond accordingly: bombs, bullets, and hellfire. The results are identical. We kill a few, we settle into a sense of faux serenity until the next faction takes its claim as the world’s tormenters.

This issue is systemic. We are caught in a vicious positive feedback loop: where the world increases combat with these extremist sects, which inevitably leads to more sect proliferation. You cannot kill an idea with bullets.

There is a reason that major world powers have been unsuccessful in eradicating a minuscule militant force comparatively— estimated from anywhere between tens of thousand to upwards of 200,000. It is because these are people. People who are filled with misguided principles and ill- will to the world that they feel has slighted them. These forces are not their numbers. They are a collection of emotions, philosophies, and stories that fuel their vendetta.

It may be difficult to understand these world’s villains, nonetheless it is important to try. I am not saying I agree, I am not saying I fully get it. What I am saying is I’m willing to give an attempt to decipher the bigger picture. These are people, who are a product of circumstance and behave in accordance with how they view their context. It is rancid with moral absolutism and violent action, but that is how they captivate the world’s watchful eye. Many of them, I’m sure, have lived a life full of dictatorships, civil wars, wars with other nations, or worse— watching peace disintegrate because peaceful methods were ineffective. These are people. They were not born inherently diabolical. No, the current actions of ISIS, ISIL, Al Qaeda, Daesh, whatever you’d like to call them are carried out by individuals who ascribe to similar philosophies of fundamentalism: a world full of black and white polarization. These extreme fundamentalists have foregone the ability to see reason and engage in critical thought. Religious convictions aside, it is these doctrines of fundamentalism and anti- intellectualism that pose a threat to humanity.

The Victims

Let us not forget the victims who have the misfortune to have been born to war- saturated lands. Those, who by no fault of their own, have fallen in the middle of this conflict— those who are forced to flee their native homes to seek sanctuary elsewhere in the world. It is estimated that some odd, 4 million have left the country, many of which are children. These data do not reflect those who have been displaced internally but are unable to leave.

Words will never be adequate to encapsulate the true nature of that nightmare. I would go as far to assert that not even well-placed empathy would be enough to properly compensate for the atrocities that have transpired. While I’m not sure anything on the planet can reconcile the horrors, taking action is a start.

I say shame to those who propose more restrictive policies. It is mortifying that in the modern era we are incapable of lending aid in crisis scenarios. Fear is not a substantive argument to deny those at risk safe haven. Especially fear appraisals that are based on no evidence. Refugees have not proven that they are the harbingers of terrorist acts— so why would we make decisions based on terror driven assumptions? These few extremists are not a reflection of the Islamic faith. Let’s be honest, speaking directly to my American family, we haven’t had the best track record of being supportive to those in need when peril strikes (see how we’ve turned away people before here). I’m not suggesting that blaming is in order. I am just hoping that we can begin to be on the right side of history. When future generations reflect on our subsequent responses to incidents like these, I would prefer those future Americans can proclaim proudly, “we helped.”

Why We Can’t Stop With Internet Rants

 I’m happy there is discussion orbiting this issue. I’m even happier that I’ve witnessed quick responses when individuals have proposed absurd plans of action. The excess of support and affirmation of a global community gives me hope for humanity. However, this is a far- cry from enough. Further steps need to be taken. I am by no means a moral absolutist and I understand that sometimes these matters need be resolved with force. In the meantime, I’ll do what I can. That is why I will donate to the refugee funds. But I prefer to not sit idly by while human- beings struggle against this malevolence. Today it’s this issue, tomorrow it will be another; nevertheless, I prefer to be an active global citizen. I believe hesitation on these matters leads to disaster. Thus, I call those inclined to act. It’s time to show the world that global support is achievable.

But hey, at the end of the day, I’m not much more than a young, graduate student preaching to the infinite aether. If you’d like to read more on what ISIS wants, I found this piece informative. For more on experts’ evaluations of preventative measures, this piece was useful. For more information on the current conflict in Syria, this video was brief and accurate. I encourage everyone to do get educated and get involved in the global effort to abolish terrorism, extremism, and fundamentalism from our species!

Source: Image from here.

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