A rallying cry for educators
Military force will not eradicate the terrorism that spreads fear among the peoples of the world. Force will crush the head of a snake when it bites, if the latter won’t slither away into the cracks of the cities from whence it came or the wilderness where its venom ripened. However, there is no military force, fire power, stealth capabilities, policing units, monitoring agent, the might of a violated sovereign state or the power of a cluster of state who can stand up to that kind of terrorism. It comes from outside and it comes from within, it comes from the distorted readings of canonic texts, and it comes from the admiration fostered by followers who feel slighted by civilization, and would take it to task at the cost of their blood and souls . It comes from the teachings and ideologies sanctifying hate and worshiping gods of hate, filling the skies with their hostilities, unfearing that God would tear them down from the heavens. It’s a perverse sort of terror, taking its satisfaction in the sights of dismembered bodies, severed heads, women and children running for their lives, their skin still burning, before they collapse on sidewalks or in theater lobbies.
Humanity’s greatest challenge in this hour is to educate itself to moderateness as a virtue, to the center as a destination, to rejecting radicalization wherever it rears its ugly head while it still appears to be just another viewpoint, lest it grow and transform into a sword and a suicide bomber’s belt.
This is not terrorism emanating from a single fixation. Wherever it strikes, it strikes in terrible proportions, exploiting the fears of its victims, whoever they happen to be, fears which are not the same everywhere, following a long and varied list of targets. However, as much as an anxious eye may see terrorism spreading out, blowing out of proportions – it remains a single terrorism, a violent arm of extremism for its own sake, a radicalization of faith in some absolute. It is a rational terrorism, it obeys laws of its making, laws that dictate that the fringe is the center, and therefore every center which isn’t on the outer edges – be it left of center or right of center – is nothing but fraud, a deceit, and therefore it is no less than Holy Writ, whether religious, or secular, or civilian, or apocalyptic, to expose it as such with a steel blade and an all consuming flame.
The belief that the extreme edge is the center is not solely the faith of terrorists. They are they ones who take it over the edge. The belief that the outer edge is the center spreads out in a world that perceives itself as enlightened, and that belief finds fertile land in the minds of a host of human cultures, in the faiths, the views, the deity worshiping, in the acceptance of unfathomable gaps explained away by economic ideologies claiming dominion over every humble social ideal, by branding courts of law as a threat, art as subversion, literature as conspiracy, harsh discourse as blunt authenticity seeking the truth while spraying it into the faces of one’s fellow men and women, in the self-aggrandizing personality type, in the idealization of the desire for superiority over all others, be it man, country, faith, ethnicity, or genetics.
If the educators of the generation, in every people and language, in every gender and religion, will not teach that going to the extreme edge is dangerous, that beyond every extreme, lurks a further extreme, and beyond it – the ultimate extreme, from which one goes out to stage a hostile take over of the center, there will be no power in the world that could stand up to terrorism.
Humanity’s greatest challenge in this hour is to educate itself to moderateness as a virtue, to the center as a destination, to rejecting radicalization wherever it rears its ugly head while it still appears to be just another viewpoint, lest it grow and transform into a sword and a suicide bomber’s belt. In a world where extremism is fostered as if it preserves the purity of values, millions take it up as a destiny, and are willing to leave everything behind and die a martyr’s death in its cause, serving as a paragon for legions of victims of radicalization waiting to follow in their footsteps.
This isn’t a story of teachers and instructors, with all the significant respect due to to them, it is the story of those who are in charge of the teachers. It is the story of newspaper editors, of movers and shakers of media, of Rabbis, Kadis, Priests, Ministers, Prime Ministers, of all the powers that be in charge of this generation, and by extension – whether or not they are aware of it – of the subsequent generations. Whereas extremism pretends to be a dedication to the Truth, the purest of the purest, it is really the murky swamp, and below the cover of its smooth surface, the eggs of the ultimate radicalization are spawned, the breeding ground hatching terrorism.
Every decent person knows where the center is. There is no real justification for those who claim the relativity of all things, that one person’s extreme edge is another person’s center. That is the relativism of Sophist style rhetorics. The musings of late night teen chats, unformed, immature, deceptive. Every decent person knows that one can fight with every fiber of one’s being for one’s beliefs and views balanced by the sheer force of respect one has for the beliefs the other fights for. All that while willing to listen, to form new positions, to accept, to reject, as part of a discourse woven with the tone of love for the thinking man, of the free man enslaved to camaraderie of humanity.
Therefore, calling people to “be moderate in your judgments” is not a call for surrender, or for a fantasy, or for a political view suitable for weaklings. It’s a call to action for the world of education at all levels, for all ages, to see extremism, every form of extremism, as an enemy endangering all people, a threat to both religion and science, a menace for this day and the next.
This is not a motto that one takes to the voting booths, because in that booth the votes are weighed by whatever the “flavor of the day” is, and on this day it is extremism, closed or populist, overt or subversive. This is a call that speaks to the way we speak with our children.
We brought them into this world, we have a moral obligation to their future. The extreme edge can only lead them to chaos.