Chaos and Peace

Our hearts go out to the victims of last week’s horrific attacks in Beirut and in Paris. We are told both attacks were perpetrated by extremists associated with Daesh (aka IS, ISIS or ISIL), apparently with the intent of creating chaos, and inciting hatred among Muslims in Lebanon, and hatred against Muslims in Europe.

Spreading chaos and fear is the stated goal of Daesh because they have no really good arguments that appeal to most people. They offer a bleak, intolerant vision of human existence that is rooted in iron-age Arab tribal culture, completely unmitigated by more modern perspectives, like heliocentrism or humanism. So with zero appeal even to most Muslims, their only option is to try to spread chaos and fear in order to divide societies and sow hatred, so that they can recruit a few more desperate souls, brainwash them, strap an explosives belt to them and send them out among us to spread more hatred, chaos and fear. I don’t know if this was the prophet’s vision for Islam, or not, and I don’t really care. I am confident that this is not the vision of Islam of the vast majority of today’s Muslims. We have to support our Muslim neighbors, co-workers, fellow travelers. We have to encourage them to push back against Daesh’s bleak vision of human existence.

Peace is the only way to defeat these extremists. We have to celebrate what they hate most about modern society: freedom of expression, tolerance and equality. We have to work for peace in the Middle East. Peace also means Europe and the U.S. have to work hard to provide safe haven to the refugees from the Middle East – especially Syria. It’s difficult, but it can be done. But it has to be a well-coordinated and well-funded effort at all levels of government.  If Europe and the US are ready to take on Daesh (ISIS), welcoming and integrating thousands of Muslim refugees is the first battle front. Not bombing Daesh’s camps. This is a war of ideas. Once we engage Daesh at that level, they do not stand a a chance. They are not strong. Daesh is weak and pathetic. That is why they dig so deep to scare us. For every video of a beheading by Daesh, let’s post 100 videos of French, Germans, Americans and English folks helping refugees. That is a war Daesh cannot win. They will continue to try and scare us, and they will use the openness of our society against us. But it won’t work. Go and reach out to Muslims in your community. Don’t isolate them, have some tea with them. Peace will only come when the call to war falls on deaf ears.


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