No one is listening to me. But boy, does kidnapping, killing and bombing get your attention. Wanting social change, resisting social change is hard, takes patience and lot’s of social interaction, networking, power sharing, persuading and waiting for a sea-change to happen.
It rarely happens and we are all minorities in one way or another. So do we know what terrorists want? Let’s start listening to them. ISIS is more than clear about it (they want an Islamic Caliphate, so let’s not sugar coat it and accept that this is a struggle about Islamic prerogatives). What is less clear to us Westerners is why. Why are so many young men (and some women) joining Islamic extremists. Why are they not happy with what they have? When they come from the West, do they not have Democracy where they can express their wishes and frustration through peaceful means? Yet they take up the gun for the very reason our democratic societies rely on force to maintain order and peace: to hold power over the current civic state and maintain the status quo, which will always, no matter how much we feel it provides freedom, disenfranchise some people. Listen to the fundamentalist Christians complaining about the ‘War on Christmas’ our liberal society wages. Listen to the complaints of Muslims in France who’s women are not allowed to wear veils in public. In a sense Bush 43 was correct, they hate our freedom, because their seems too much of it, mostly in the eyes of religious fundamentalists, who are forced to condone or even participate in a sinful way of live – coed school rooms for girls and boys, having to pay for reproductive (aka abortion) healthcare plans, having to sign marriage licenses for homosexual couples.
We all crave to have control over our lives. Humans always have. But we rarely have control. If we cannot have it in public life, we want it in hour private lives, in our local communities as a form of tribal existence. But if we cannot have it anywhere, we may just start to fight for our rights, and the current violence in the Middle East and Africa among young Muslim populations is exactly a struggle for regaining this control. But one man’s control, is another women’s oppression. And it seems to me that the very public sphere of Islam, unlike modern secular Christianity and Judaism, complicates these equations of control, sustaining conflicts that some people know conclude can only be solved through violence.
Political motivation, however, is only one reason, and for most jihadists surely always important but merely a superficial one. Most of these young people joining a war where they surely will die or be imprisoned or left behind (again) join these militant, close-knit communities for the same sentiments teenagers in America join street gangs: for a deep seated desire to belong, a desire they do not feel fulfilled in their parents world, a world of hard work and little recognition.