I’ve come to begrudgingly accept that there may fundamentally be two types of people in the world — those who venture boldly into society driven by a curious and open mind, a compassionate heart, a commitment to lifelong learning, a desire to see the world, an urge to meet new and unique people, be exposed to new cultures, and learn from everyone they meet. These are the goodwill ambassadors of peace, justice, and service to those in most need of our care.
Then there are the rest.
These are the souls who were raised in a way that places little value in education and seeking out facts and verifiable truths in the world. They view society with suspicion, see terror around every corner, and demonize those who are different or challenge their rigid and narrow-minded view of the world. These types are often guided by an inflexible and intolerant belief system and strict ideology. They operate from a place of fear, distrust, willful ignorance, selfishness, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, provincialism, anti-intellectualism, fervent nationalism, aggressive patriotism, an ‘I got mine — don’t expect a thing from me’ attitude, irrational and misguided fears of foreign cultures, a lack of empathy, outright hostility towards science and academia, and a hypocritical condemnation of the values and dissolute lives of those they disapprove of.
Naturally, the world is wide and diverse, and people fall at all different points on this spectrum. And yet, I am convinced humans are raised and/or genetically predisposed to generally fall into one category or another.
John Lennon once sang:
‘You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.’
I’d rather be naive and idealistic, with the possibility of forging friendships and building lasting peace, then approach the world with fear, aggression, and rabid mistrust. What those in the second category don’t realize is that the very fear and malicious attitude they direct at Muslims and those who are different is the very behavior which breeds enmity and gives rise to radical Islamic terrorism in the first place. People aren’t born terrorists. They learn it. They are driven towards it. And more often than not, we taught it to them. The quickest way to make a terrorist is attack his nation unprovoked, seize his oil and government, and occupy his land for years — taking away his autonomy and ability to self-govern. ISIS didn’t exist until we invaded Iraq. The only weapons of mass destruction there was us. If you want to see more radicalized Muslim attacks in this country, then by all means, threaten the welfare and livelihood of Muslims, and make them feel unwelcome in their own country. It’s remarkable what a little dignity and respect will earn you. And frightening what a little oppression can provoke.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”