Citizenry and Charlie, Spirituality and Soccer

This post was driven into existence by the various communities where I hang out. Two parallel discussions split into four overnight while I wasn’t looking, discussions fueled by our highly emotional connection to recent events. I’m compelled to pull a few highlights and offer my 2 cents worth, which ain’t worth a dime, right?

These discussions are interrelated:

  • What are we to do was triggered by I am Charlie.
  • Why do they radicalize has been an ongoing discussion since ISIS / ISIL came along.
  • What is “spirituality” and other meaning-of-life discussions have been around longer than me, and sometimes I feel pretty old.
  • What is “spiritual community” was started by a long-time personal friend on Facebook. It began as a faith-based community discussion, but Charlie elevated it to a global “universal peace” level…which is where we need to be.

Why Are Radicals Able to Radicalize?
Recruiting and retention are priority sustainability issues for any company competing to sell their services and beliefs. Terrorism is big business, and R & R are survival issues: they need high visibility in the marketplace to compete with others for employees. ISIL has gone Hollywood: an amazing social media campaign, slick productions that highlight a huge amount of pride in their a highly marketable elevated level of barbarism. They are all-around sharp businessmen.

Charlie was skillfully orchestrated to achieve maximum media exposure for AQAP (the Yemen subsidiary) before the martyrs allowed themselves to be dispatched to their eternal reward (“21 Virginians”?). If they would have died on-the-spot they would have been given much less coverage.

Boko Haram beat the Charlie gang’s entry into this week’s carnage competition by a few days, but for some reason their PR campaign was delayed. Word is getting out a week later that they slaughtered hundreds or thousands in Nigeria last weekend. Minimal headlines, minimal outrage because AQAP’s Charlie campaign grabbed high visibility and hogged the spotlight. The competition is heating up so fast that the Taliban massacre of all those young men and their teachers in Pakistan is already ancient history. And of course Gaza is still Gaza, always will be…so attack the capability to recruit and retain.

Call It What It Is…then kill the spotlight!
Last night, a CNN analyst proposed not giving any coverage, the media not doing any deep analysis, not acknowledging the madness beyond calling it what it is—a barbaric crime committed by deranged lunatics. Eliminate the PR, the glorification, the recruiting value. Then go out and get ’em and (after due process, added grudgingly) put them in some dark, smelly, sinfully nasty place…a hell on earth where they are absolutely forgotten. Sorry Amnesty International, stopping short of capital punishment the punishment must fit the crime.

Can you imagine our media and the political and academic experts showing restraint? But what would be the result? Now, even with the condemnations, “bad” press and negative analyses, we’re still glorifying the events and the perpetrators with our endless obsession. Even bad attention is better than no attention.

The Essence of “Community”
Community is centered around inclusion, and it must be inclusion of all. Like it or not we’re global. We all have a lot more neighbors than we used to. We must get to know all our neighbors and try our damnedest to get along with each other. But hey, it’s a two-way street that must be traveled by radicals and conservatives alike. Is humanity capable?

Issue #1 is in the way of Solution #1: we can’t even begin to master the baby steps of awareness and tolerance. How can we ever expect to attain full-blown understanding of and true appreciation for the beliefs of others, whatever those beliefs may be? That is what we desperately need because the alternative pushes us closer to the Eve of self-destruction…
       “You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace.
        Hate your next-door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace.”

Fifty years after MLK, Montgomery, Nashville, Selma et al the US is focused on “hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe”. How in the world can we address the same basic issues on a global basis?

One of the online discussions devolved into testiness among obviously intelligent but overly passionate responders due to misunderstanding and differences of opinions. It only took three days and sixty responses to break down. And that’s an online discussion!

True Believers, Especially Leaders: Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Integrity!
Slaughter in the name of God? Which God? Those committing inhuman acts are not true representatives of their religion. Islam is peace and love, and has far fewer differences / much more in common with Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, you-name-it. Even agnostics and atheists share universal human values that radicals refuse to embrace.

The bad element of Islam is allegedly a vastly outnumbered but highly vocal minority. Why are they not forcefully denounced by the mainstream? Late last night I saw a top Hezbollah cleric publicly state that these acts are bad for Islam! I know I didn’t dream that, but a google search this morning turned up absolutely nothing! Why do we filter out what really needs to be emphasized? Media: find your Voice and reclaim your integrity!

Where are the senior leaders of Muslim countries, where are the top religious clerics? Where is their Voice? The message behind your silence is deafening. Outside influences cannot resolve these internal issues. Find Your Voice, take back your beliefs and values!

Root Cause: Why Do They Radicalize?
We’ve faced the same thing for years with the origins of gang culture. People need to belong to something bigger than “me”; we need a sense of community with a strong foundation of values, norms, ethics, beliefs. If there is no compelling “good” alternative, the “bad” will continue to be embraced.

As long as Muslim youth feel alienated, as long as they cannot see a compelling vision and hear a legitimate Calling they can believe in, as long as they cannot get membership into a better gang they will embrace the alternative. When there is a void, something will fill it.

Legitimate religions of the world, leaders of legitimate governments (DANGER…oxymoron alert!) step up the recruiting and retention efforts. The bad guys are kicking our collective ass!

Last, ISIS / ISIL is throwing big bucks around and the competition (us) can’t match their starting wage / benefits package. There are socio-economic issues to address too. Leaders…a little help?


3 thoughts on “Citizenry and Charlie, Spirituality and Soccer

    1. Craig Post author

      Please tell me…this is intended as bad satire, right? Or possibly just a snippet out of context? (just wishing it was so…please don’t send the whole thing, it would be too painful and disturbing to view!)

      Who ARE these people, where did this air? If I accidentally joined when I was young and dumb, how do I turn in my membership to whatever sub-species these creatures came from?

      Thanks for sharing (I think) even though it makes me want to become a drinking man…. a heavily drinking man.

  1. dave

    Craig, good thoghts in this post. Certainly it is a controversial topic.
    Seeds of radicality grow from unstructured communities where lack of basic principles and values generates frustration and absence of hope. The lack of education systems combined with poverty, religious fanatism and a vision of a life under minimum quality standards increases the risks of radicalism.
    Developed countries with mature democracies value freedom of speech as a main pillar of their societies. New communication systems are a great tool to bring progress world wide but the speed of information sometimes generates the opposite effect.
    Underdeveloped countries could feel attacked when their beliefs and their symbols have been theratened. They have developed their vision of life under different values than ours.
    We know how much it took for Europe or the US to reach the status they have.
    How could we avoid radicalism? We could start by understanding the complexity of the open and hyperconnected world where we live now. Wouldn´t it be keep our values without crossing the line of provocation knowing that many people could feel hurted? That doesn´t mean we have to go backwards into what it took so much for us to reach. It would just mean that we could to develope more empathy with others by drawing lines of respect that would prevent us from future threats of anger and desperaton.
    The earth is a moving organism and I am sure that will evolve in the right direction because the majority of the population wants that. We just need to have the strategy to let this changes flow by helping others, by creating the right environments around the weakest communities and by avoiding disruptions.


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