Here’s the thing – the situation involving ISIS, Syria and any number of radicalised groups and individuals around the world is extremely complex. It dates back thousands of years, it’s rooted in a culture that most of us simply have no way of understanding. Not even the most informed international political experts are able fully get their head around the best way forward to resolve the conflicts at the core of the current issues. As such, the delineation between ‘us’ and ‘them’ – or at least, what we can do to bridge the divide between the two – is very unclear. But even in that scenario, there’s one thing that we know won’t resolve it and won’t lead us towards unity and, ultimately, a solution. And that is hate.
ISIS is fuelled by hate, bolstered by fear. They’re an organisation that thrives on chaos. The people who are sympathetic to ISIS’ cause are people who are lost, who are looking for meaning, and who subsequently go on to find it in whatever twisted doctrine ISIS provides. These recruits have no faith in what they’ve seen in the world, they’re looking for a new way. Many of these people are likely victims of previous battles in which Western nations have been involved – this is not to make a judgement on what’s been done, but you can imagine how someone who’s family has been devastated by war might be feeling alone and lost, and how the ‘brotherhood’ of ISIS might be able to fill that void, that need for family, and how they could stoke the fires of hatred to help further their own mission.
Given this, it makes perfect sense that ISIS is looking to attack western targets, or any targets where they can get the most attention and cause the most disruption. Because people see this and they’re scared. We see this and we want answers, we want to know what we can do to keep our families safe. So we need a bad guy, people need to point the finger at something. So we blame religion. And that’s an easy link to make, even logical to a degree, given ISIS is founded on religious principles. But by choosing hate we’re only doing what ISIS and other extremist groups want. In hate, we marginalise religious communities, we point the finger at people who’ve had nothing to do with any such attacks and who abhor them as much as we do. We subject innocent people to judgement and criticism and violence. And what happens to those people then? What happens to the person who sees no answer, has no faith in the good of humanity. What happens to the person who’s looking for another way?
By choosing hate, we only make ISIS stronger. If anyone were in a state of mind where they might be ‘at risk’ of radicalisation, we’re only going to push them further by showing them anger instead of empathy.
While fear is understandable in such a situation, and frustration is to be expected, we need to work to make ourselves rise above judgement and hate and consider new ways to move forward. Because if we don’t we’re only helping ISIS – and the next radical group, and the next one after that – in their ongoing mission to divide us and solidify their numbers through segregation – religious or otherwise.
Unity and community is the way forward in this battle. Understanding, not blame. While we’ll never be able to completely eliminate the risks of radicalisation and extremism, we’re only going to fuel them by justifying their beliefs in our actions. There are some who’ll never agree, but we can lessen their impact through acceptance of such differences.
I don’t claim to have an in-depth knowledge of the situation at hand, but I know that hate is never a constructive response.
My thoughts are with all of those who are suffering or have suffered in this conflict.