Fear and Loathing in the West: a Call for Radical, Defiant Compassion 


The events of the last week have shaken our society.  We struggle once more, to make sense of a world where our safety and security are in question and we bear witness to what seem like daily tragedies.  In times like these our fear if not confronted, quickly turns to anger, our feelings of helplessness and despair start to choke us.  We look at the world around us, violent, uncertain, broken, and are afraid for our friends, our families, and our futures.

My country has been unrecognizable since 9/11.  The fear of terrorist attack has seeped into our culture like the poison of a snakebite, a sharp pain at first, waves of fear, and then the invasive flow of toxin through our system.  Like any poison, there is the initial damage from the bite but the true horror comes when our organs start to shut down and deteriorate.  While this happens the body starts to damage itself.  Pieces of us that played vital roles in keeping us alive and functioning, start to shut down or in some cases attack us, damaging nearby organs and causing a cascade of damage that can lead to death.

In the poisoned body of our society, the part of us that starts to die first is our compassion.   At first that compassion becomes overwhelmed by anger.  We want to lash out at whatever caused that wound, hurt them, make them pay for what they did, but that anger gets rapidly replaced by fear, and fear is brutal, fear is paralyzing.  Where anger is seductive, fear is subtle and invasive.  Fear grips us at 4 am while we lay awake and twists our thinking.  Fear makes us selfish, and insular, and petty.  It turns us against each other and makes us mistrust our neighbors.  It destroys all of the noble impulses of humanity and turns us into shrinking, cowering victims, and it is exactly what Daesh and the other assholes that are trying to drag us into a religious war want.

The reasons behind the attacks in Paris are not a mystery.  They are just one more attempt by ignorant, wretched cowards to remake the world in their own fearful image.  Their strategy is simplistic and tired, cause fear and terror then sit back and let the West tear itself apart.

Daesh is weak.  Let me repeat that so it sinks in.  Daesh is weak.  They are weak militarily, socially, and they are weak philosophically.  Daesh can not hope to defeat the West so their tactics are to create an environment where the West destroys itself.  This is done in a variety of ways.

To Daesh, the flood of refugees flowing into West is not a consequence of the violence in the Middle East, it’s a feature.  They want us to turn on these refugees.  It reinforces their particular portrayal of the West as anti-Islam and more importantly anti-Muslim, and because we, in our state of fear and panic, take up those loathsome roles willingly, more and more young men who could have been dreaming of a better life in the West, show up on Daesh’s doorstep, filled with hate and fear, ready to lash out at those who showed them cruelty during their hardest struggle.

But let’s look at this struggle a different way, because there is a global battle happening right now between two opposing philosophies and it’s foolish to ignore that fact, but it’s not the battle that we are being spoon-fed.  The mythical battle of Armageddon that both Islamic and Christian fundamentalists are trying to start is not the real fight.  That battle is a ideological disagreement between idiots, both side clutching onto their medieval religious bigotry like so many fearful old ladies clutching their pearls.  Their battle will only be the world changing event that they want it to be if we let them hijack our society and poison our compassion.

The battle that we are actually taking part in is much more subtle and deadly then Armageddon and it is also a battle between two opposing philosophies.  The battle we are in now is the battle between religious extremism and tolerance.  Our enemies in this struggle are many.  The extremist elements of both Islam and Christianity are in large part responsible for this destructive environment, each side pushing and cadjoling their followers to mistrust and hate the other, and by other I mean every single individual that does not submit to their theology.  Our media sources, theoretically there to serve their communities, wallow in the fear and suspicion because selling content is more important than service to community and one generally does not go broke peddling fear.   Our natural instincts become our enemies in a environment of toxic fear.  

Understandably, we all want to live in a safe and healthy world.  When our leaders and our news sources are perpetually pumping it full of fear and panic our natural instincts kick in and the desire to protect ourselves and those that we love rises to the surface.  But that instinct, when manipulated by those with agendas, can cause us to actually act in ways that will make us less safe.

Fear is a powerful tool.  When an owl hunts there is a common trick that the hunter uses to fool its prey.  Imagine that you are a rabbit in the woods at night.  To you,  as a prey animal, the call of an owl equates to death, the sound you hear right before you are torn to pieces and devoured.  The owl understands this dynamic, that prey runs on fear and panic, and it uses its call to sow panic in the rabbit.  So Rabbit You hears the call of an owl and recognizes it as potential death.  You cower in the underbrush, hoping that you are hidden, safe from the hunter above.  The owl calls again and your body floods with adrenaline, does it see you?, where is the threat?  The owl calls again and you are sure that it must see you. The adrenaline and the fear in your system take over and you bolt, you run for better cover, someplace safer, and then it’s over.  Because the owl didn’t know exactly where you were, it just knew that you were close.  Your panic induced flight is what actually allowed the predator to spot, track, and eventually kill you.  Your fear and your instincts betrayed you.

Fear makes you act against your best interests, unscrupulous men have been using that fact to control people throughout history.  If we want to survive this growing struggle we must start thinking tactically.  We must learn to act, not react.   When we are being led down the path of destruction by people that we are morally opposed to, the proper action is to stop walking down that path.

We can’t win a battle if we can’t recognize our enemy.  So in order to make us more effective in our fight, and allow the culture of compassion and honor to triumph over the culture of hatred and mistrust, I’d like to end this with my assessment of the forces in play.

Muslims are not our enemies, Christians are not our enemies.  Radical, extremist, Christains and Muslims are our enemies.

Painting any religion as the cause for this is falling into a dangerous false flag scheme that is specifically  designed to drag more people into this war between two small but opposing minorities within the larger groups.  Islam is no more a religion of violence than Christianity is.  People in both religions have the capability to cherry pick texts to be used for ill.    People in all religions have this capability and have used it.

Devolving into islamaphobia and bigotry is the absolutely worst thing that we can do right now as a society.  Daesh is counting on you being afraid of Muslims, they are counting on you to be cruel to the refugees that they created.  This makes them stronger.  They are counting on you to be violent toward the Muslims that are already living alongside you in your communities, this proves their point that the West hates Islam and gives them justification for their atrocities.  They want you to be afraid, to eat drink and breathe fear.  And because they are so weak, so desperate, so cowardly , they need us to destroy ourselves, because without our participation, DAESH DOESNT STAND A CHANCE AGAINST THE WEST.

So this is a call to action for everyone that refuses to live in fear, to everyone that refuses to let a small group of small men dominate our thoughts and hearts, to everyone that wants to create true safety in our communities.

So when we are faced with a choice between fear and understanding , I want us to chose understanding.

When we are faced with a choice between hatred and compassion, I want us to choose compassion.

And when we are faced with a choice between being fight and flight, I want us to choose to fight.  I want us to stand up as a society and proclaim that our values of freedom, and service, compassion, and honor are what defines our society, that they are the heart of Western culture, not just something that we pay lip service to when it suits us.

In a war of philosophies, compassion and tolerance will always trump hatred and bigotry.  We will triumph over extremist philosophies because they are flawed and weak.  Let’s not let these flawed and weak men dominate our consciousness.

Let us all stand up, be strong, be brave.  Our compassion and our humanity are our greatest strengths.