Isis and Osiris, Flirting with Death…

Isis wages war in the Mideast

Isis wages war in the Mideast

Why do Westerners join radical organizations like Isis, Isil, the Islamic State, the whatchamacallit gang of hashishins currently overrunning the Mideast from their base in Syria, and apparently with recruits from all over, including those paragons of capitalism UK and US, this at a time of unparalleled economic stability and growth in most of the world? Good question. That’s what a lot of Western politicians would like to know. You can’t just buy these guys off.

The answer, of course, is as obvious as the nose on anyone’s face. Material well-being is largely an empty vessel, all form and no substance. Once you’ve got your forty acres and a mule, then what’s the next thing you’ll want? Why, another mule of course, a younger one, a larger one, a stronger one with more horsepower. Such is the nature of desire, for acquisitions of more and more, bigger and bigger, to what end, who knows? There is no end. Materialism is an end in itself. But it’s a dead end: entertainment rules, sex and all that jazz. Wait a minute…

Isis execution

Isis execution

Communism found that out the hard way. The camaraderie and sense of belonging that should have resulted never really did. Exulting in being on the right side of history only works if you’re right and the rewards are real. Communism not only did not work very well; it yielded little or nothing when it did—vodka, mostly. Despite the lack of consumer goods in Havana, Cuba, to this day, three items are ubiquitous in every street-corner kiosk—rum, cigarettes, and condoms; sounds like dialectical materialism to me.

Capitalism is a more successful economic theory, success in economics—like evolution—being measured in productive output, but like communism, ultimately materialistic and with only limited rewards. Ironically you’d only know this once you’ve achieved it. No one struggling to survive would consider the thought that the fruits of his labor would ultimately after a few generations be dissatisfaction, and it is no accident that the Islamic State is occurring in a part of the world that is relatively well-off financially, without really trying, i.e. oil wealth.

The image most Westerners would have of Muslims as wild-eyed bearded fanatics is not very accurate, of course. The meeting of Muslims overseas is a beautiful thing, miles of smiles, something that ‘Christian communion’ can probably only recall wistfully, and I’m sure the Hajj must be something to behold. I realize that this still occurs in Christian communities, too, even in the US south, though internationally the best ‘old-time’ religion is probably found in the island nations of the Pacific or Caribbean. Sometimes they like to pick on the foreigner for special treatment. Hi.

In nations that have both, often the practical difference between Islam and Christianity is a marked decrease in alcohol and licentious behavior in the Muslim towns. On the one hand, I’ve been asked to leave a Muslim mosque for no other reason than my Western appearance, and on the other, I’ve been handed many a screed on Islam by true believers with only the best of intentions. Like all ‘movements’, though, the Isis guys go too far, wayyyy too far. Executing non-believers is not cool, and neither is forced conversion. Morality without free will is meaningless.

There is a better way, of course, a middle path, if you will, namely: the union of all religions into one, or none, under an umbrella of mutual respect and acceptance, and the incorporation of those principles into a society reinvented along principles of equality and re-orientated toward sustainability; simple, no? In this view, jihad (struggle) is not the answer; it is the question: what is worth struggling for? What will the future consist of? Isn’t this what the 60’s were all about? Why has that been lost under an avalanche of consumer goods? Why is no one planning for the bright and rosy future that is within our power to achieve? That’s what I’d like to know. What happens when the oil runs out?

But for those Westerners who lament the simple days of old and are sure that this is the beginning of the end, well: you may be right, but don’t blame Isis, or any other religious whack-jobs. They’re not the motherfr*ckers trying to tease every last drop of stinky juice out of Mother Nature and her various offices and orifices. Blame capitalism, or consumerism, or yourself. You know where Isis gets its money, right? Are you willing to give up your car if would bring world peace? No, I didn’t think so. Don’t get me started on global warming.