On September 11th 2001 the world entered a new era of violence. In the end there will be less religion in the world, just like in Europe after 1648, when humanism and the Enlightenment unfurled their victory banners.
Before us lie bleak years.
The jihadis of Al Qaida, Boko Haram, and IS believe wrongly that they are in possession of a comprehensive truth. They enforce, so they claim, the will of Allah and his mission for us. In this truth chaos and decline are part of the equation. “They love life, we love death” writes the perfidious terrorists on their flags. It’s not just Christianity, not just the refrigerator or Coca Cola, they hate everything that does not bend to their wretched views and their apocalyptic furor. The largest victim group is still Muslims, who in the worldview of these radicals are an eye sore.If we succeed in this, then we succeed in our modernity, by destroying the targets through which the jihadis today pull us into war.
There is no mistaking: we, in the East as in the West, in land of the rising sun as well that of the setting sun, can only beat these twisted people through force, by the use of soldiers, drones, with the help of secret information gathered by intelligence agencies, and with the knowledge and sad understanding, that their will be many casualties, sadly including civilians. The greatness of our culture would survive, so long as it can retain its form, if it can put the brakes on, not meeting absolute terror with the absolute abandoning of its virtues. This hasn’t been successful in the US, and many countries in the West still struggle with moderating between the pulls of freedom and of security.
But it’s clear: there is an enemy, and this enemy wants to destroy us. “Us” is everyone who orients themselves in their lives with humanistic values. That is the majority, in Paris and Beirut, the latter of which in Europe is called “the Paris of the Near East.” We may have different cultural and religious heritages, but we are all still human.
This original humanity, treat others as you would treat yourself, the meaning of the Golden Rule, which not only can be quoted from the New Testament, but can be found in similar forms in all religious texts across humankind. Any form of categorizing people in order to discriminate against others, is a departure from the universal compassion that we have for one another. Tears cried for loved ones lost in an attack are universally understandable, tearing down our walls of separation. We are all human beings, in Beirut and in Paris.
Islamism is a malformed offspring of globalization: the fear of others who are coming ever closer to us through new means of transportation, the Internet, and real-time communication across the globe. Those who believe that the benefices and clerics hold exclusive knowledge in their hands must see now how their power is dwindling. Therefore violence breaks out everywhere in the world; there are desperate attempts to stop us from coming together. Because certain people have always had much to gain from discrimination.
The new growing humanism we are experiencing at the same time is, however, the most noble of globalization’s children: in seeing and recognizing others who are like me that live only a mouse click away, there is the potential that all the barriers of race, religion, and the rest can be driven from the world forever. Did we really believe that we could achieve this without a struggle? Did we really believe that the old and new representatives of exclusionary ideologies and worldviews would ignore our efforts?
At stake in this Thirty Years War is nothing less than if the modern world can remain a place of freedom, or if this final bemoaning performance of the intolerant will succeed in ending the freedoms of the Modern era, and bomb us back to the near-forgotten darkness of earlier times. In the end there will be, so we want to hope, a large space for empathy and coexistence, which will be determined by tolerance and by a social contract, esti Deus non daretur, as if there weren’t a God.