So now we stand on the edge of the abyss again. Do we bomb them into oblivion? Do we or do we not send in troops to train and advise? Will there be mission creep resulting in more lost lives?
Where you ask. It doesn't make any difference. Anywhere in the Mideast will do.
Now it seems like our world is on fire and we're surprised: A fire not ignited by, but fanned by fervent fundamentalist religion: The actions of a supposedly Christian nation that ignores its ally's murderous intent and continues to send taxpayer dollars to support genocide. A form of Judaism that forgets its history of suffering and inflicts it on innocent people under the guise of rooting out extremists. A form of Islam that celebrates torture and death by barbarian beheadings while yearning for life in the 14th century.
It shouldn't be difficult to understand the emergence of this wave of religious fundamentalism around the world. When revered models have remained undisturbed for long periods and are suddenly disturbed, any kind of aberrant behavior is to be expected. A return to the most fundamental beliefs of that model seems like the most grounded place from which to defend against the disturbance.
Our national hubris has blinded us to the futility of trying to bomb this kind of fundamentalism out of existence in the Mideast. Our national memory has failed and we've forgotten our culpability in the creation of this extreme form of terrorism.
The more we bomb, the more we strengthen their resolve by driving them deeper into their fundamentals. For example, if Al Qaeda wasn't bad enough, we now have to deal with ISIS. In our own country, the emergence of Christian Dominionism demonstrates the same phenomenon: A misguided philosophy that's primary purpose is a fascistic form of Christian theocracy in America. And Israel has followed up what it calls "mowing the grass" in Gaza with the largest land grab of Palestinian territory in recent history.
We're experiencing a cultural calamity that started with our meddling in an area of the world we still know little about. So we are not innocent bystanders. We've decided what their national boundaries should be without regard for their religious traditions, tribal loyalties, and societal histories.
Through the ensuing years, we overthrown their governments, meddled in their affairs, invaded and occupied them as though we had some God given right to interfere with their lives telling how they should be, what they should think, how they should be governed.
One's morality is based on one's epistemology and it is the basis of one's world views and one's politics Consequently, the difference in our politics and theirs, is deeply woven into opposing world views.
And now this conflict in world views is being brought to a crisis point, not aided by, but exacerbated by our ham-handed default approach to every resolution: Military force, seemingly, the only tool we have in our bag.
I don't have much hope for better days in my lifetime because we have an equally important epistemological conflict in the U.S. Those on the right whose constant drum beat for war derive their politics from a religious epistemology that contains an interpretation that God is on our side.
And those who see there must be a better way to bring reconciliation and peace to this worn torn world we live in today. All one needs to do is read the responses to President Obama's speech to figure who's who.
Yes, I share the initial visceral response to seeing an American gruesomely beheaded. And yes, my first reaction is to want vengeance. But then I read the poster in my office. The one of Gandhi who says, "an eye for an eye makes the world blind."
We will only enjoy peace when we realize that every nation has the right to self-determination. Until we do, we will suffer the consequences of that denial.
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