I believe in evil. First, let me define that. I see evil as the love of violence and corruption, the desire to cause pain and suffering, to deprive other living creatures of their lives and to exert control, indiscriminately, over the will of others. There are many kinds of evil and the world is experiencing a great many of them today.
There is a reason why men and women committed to terrorizing the world make these videos documenting their depravity. They want to show others what is possible, that nothing is forbidden, that nothing is too terrible, too evil, too violent, or too cruel to do. There is nothing that is too evil. They intend to inspire others to imagine doing evil and violent things. They dehumanize their victims and celebrate their own cruelty.
To the corrupted soul these videos are exciting. Evil excites them and makes them feel like anything is possible, like maybe they can take control.
The Islamic State doesn’t need to recruit soldiers. The evil they seek to tap into is already germinating in the hearts and minds of people in every country on earth. All they need to do is to convince them to act, to glorify themselves through their power and their cruelty. To join them, all one needs to be is evil. They don’t have to be Muslim, they just have to love violence and corruption and desire to cause pain and suffering, to deprive innocent victims of their lives and their own self-determination.
The propaganda videos put out by the Islamic State are not intended to frighten suburban soccer mom’s or foreign heads of state. They are a recruitment device aimed at saying, “All those things you never thought you could do to a human being, we are doing. What’s stopping you?”.
I write about this in order to create some perspective relative to the inevitable media narratives we can expect as we see more and more violence here in the United States. It will become a part of every day life and it truly doesn’t have much to do with religion. Yes, the Islamic State is Islamic and yes they intend to spread their most evil version of Islam across the Globe, but the Islamic State is destined to fail. The evil they’ve awakened will remain long after the desert sands of Syria and Iraq are bathed in the blood of “martyrs”.
The evil we see today is the result of an “active nihilism”, not merely a rejection of the values and beliefs of the world, but an active pursuit of destroying those values. Frederich Nietzsche believed that this was a necessary stage of societal development, a discarding of the outdated values of the past and the beginning of something new. Only, unlike the Nazi’s who believed in something “new” and “better”, their Islamist offspring have no intention of creating anything. This is a nihilism aimed at existence itself and a terror aimed at wiping everything out. It’s an evil that is innately antagonistic to life, to reality, truth, existence, reason, and the most notoriously human virtue of self-preservation.
Sadly, the fact is that this kind of evil and nihilism has always been put down by the strength and virtue of more civilized societies, whether in Persia, Greece, Rome, or the democratically-inclined European and American Allied Forces. Today there is no virtue in Europe. There are no values or philosophies strong enough to stand up against the insanity and terror surrounding them. Passive nihilism cannot survive active nihilism. Passivity is how one gets selected by those obsessed with destruction.
America still has a few lights burning and maybe enough to survive, but we’re dangerously close to being hollow ourselves. We’re a gigantic oak with withering roots and a rotted trunk, no longer nourished by the waters of the enlightenment or of our Judeo-Christian religious heritage. We’re dangerously empty and unprepared, as a nation anyway, to deal with the threats facing us today. Only the opposite of evil can defeat evil.
Only a love of life, liberty, the innate sovereignty and value of each individual, and a terrifying intolerance of anything that threatens these God given rights can create the kind of cultural and societal strength necessary to defeat the evil that is in the world. These cannot just be ideas, they must be at the center of who we are as a people and as a nation. Otherwise, with no courage and no conviction, we’ll sit idle while men and women who worship death surround us in violence and chaos, and make terror just another part of our daily lives.