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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Less Calling than Justification

Let's go with this a bit.  When "al-Canadi" (ie, John Maguire) sais "it's your own people turning against you at home," he may kinda have a loose thread similar to a point.  "Our own people" assumedly meaning Canadians, and "turning on" meaning a rejection in part or whole of something we see as part of our Canadian fabric, there's lots of that - look at voter turnout rates as an example. 
Or the calls for an overhaul of our structure of governance (like Open Data) or economic model (shared economy).  There are a lot of beefs out there with things that aren't working, ranging from education to infrastructure repair.  Hell, I recently heard a finance guy calling for revolution.
None of these folk are rushing to the Middle East to oppress locals in the name of Islam, though, are they?  Much less attacking domestic targets.  If anything, we're trying to increase political transparency, not help catalyze a police state in response to terrorism.
Which, naturally, is the goal of ISIL and any other terrorist organization.  They'd love to see Canada become a hermit state, and love it even more if we collapsed into a civil war.
But that's not what Maguire is pitching as his motivation.  No, he's heard "the call" and is inviting Canadians (through petulant videos) to convert to Islam, or at least the version he's twigged on to.
What Islam has to do with trying to invade Turkey and oppressing locals is beyond me, but then I know that what ISIL is doing isn't really Islam.  It's barbarism, given name to justify it as something else.
And that's the rub, right there.  Whether it's ISIL seeking to destabilize others with violence or Maguire calling on other people to become like him, both approaches have zero-sum, apocalyptic end-games.
ISIL wants legitimacy, they've got the faux-Islam thing, but they're also expansionist.  Whatever the rhetoric, it's less a matter of their elite thinking about the end of days, so much as feeling like they're bringing the kingdom of heaven themselves, setting themselves up with the divine right to rule by force.
Recruits like Maguire are pushing for conversion; they want the world to take on their world-view.
What the common thread?
It's justification.  It's absolution through elimination of the Other.
If I, say, use a homophobic slur, or slap a child, or shoot an unarmed black youth, and I'm the only one who does the mean thing, then I'm a bad person.  If more and more people do it as well, though, then I was just ahead of the curve, wasn't I?
This is the truth that probably goes unnoticed by the Maguires of the world as much as it does by any people or organizations that justify inhuman acts of oppression in any form by saying "that's the way the world works."
The world might be a greedy, violent, short-sighted place, but it's also dynamic.  Extinction is written into the mainframe of our ecosystem. 
We like to think we're better than that, don't we?  In some way superior to the rest of the animal kingdom out there?  Civilized, rational actors, etc.?  Are we not therefore able of being more than our genetic blueprints?  Of being more than the selection of the fittest?
Maybe.  A lot of folk don't bother thinking that far ahead; they stop at the justification bit, declare themselves "histories actors" and whittle away their humanity, delving into the heart of darkness within. 
Canada has, at least in our popular myth, always tried to be more than this, the dominance game.  Instead of justifying bad behaviour through destroying or converting others, we've tried to build a state of plurality where diversity of opinion is seen as a strength, not a weakness.  By empowering different points of view, we're that much closer to the truth, to more sustainable solutions, etc. 
We're not trying to convert others; we're trying to grow something greater than the sum of its parts. 
We can make the conscious choice to own our actions and reactions rather than justify them.  It's a harder road than putting self-interest first and dehumanizing others or insisting they have to be like us to be human. 
To do so is to submit to something greater than oneself, or one's tribe.  It's to think of open-endings and of growth rather than of Armageddon and ends justifying means.
Not that there's anything new in this.  We might just be due for a reminder.

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