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Why are we so surprised?

Yes, why are we so surprised by this wave of young people who are leaving our countries to go and do the Djihad? What dreadful sickness are they suffering from? What seed of madness have they swallowed to become such barbarians?

As everyone, I am profoundly saddened by these extreme behaviours perpetrated in the name of God (mind you, I would be just as saddened if they were perpetrated in the name of Mickey Mouse!). But what is even more saddening is the fact that we are blind to the root cause of all this: despair. All we see are its terrifying effects, which fill us with anger and trigger our hatred: beware, because we too are becoming insanely righteous …

Despair is the name of the sickness, of this seed of insanity: the profound distress, the total despondency of those who have stopped hoping, and which, in this case, affects mainly youngsters. Why youngsters? Because they are still – even if they are not aware of it - intrinsically in touch with the deep rooted human quest for an ideal world : a world that is fair, a world of love and sharing, where they can bring their unique contribution and be fulfilled.

But what answers does society give them? What models to follow? What future prospects does it offer? A society where those who condemn corruption are themselves corrupt, where honesty doesn’t pay - and is in fact penalized - , a society where everything proves that money and material goods – to which they have little or no access – are their only salvation, their only hope of being respected, recognized, and their only possibility of fulfilment.

All this isn’t new you might say, society has always been dysfunctional and has always generated rebels, particularly during periods of crisis. But the difference is that now this legitimate unrest is exacerbated by media globalisation and the internet revolution: madness is worldwide, the virus is everywhere… and to make it worse, the media complacently propagates it by explicitly and implicitly singing the praise of Money and what it can do for us: displaying the life of stars and of the Jet set, showing how powerful and above the law rich people are, encouraging us to play the lottery in the hope of becoming like them…

So if our distraught youngsters violently reject society, it is hardly surprising! And it isn’t surprising either that they welcome with open arms whoever speaks to their need for an ideal: suddenly, there’s a ray of hope, they begin to see a meaning to their lives, they can contribute to making the world a better place where they’ll be respected and fulfilled… Indeed, they are being manipulated, but their manipulators are the only ones who found the words that touched their souls. Moreover, this doesn’t only concern underprivileged youths of immigrant origin, it also concerns middle class youngsters who are particularly sensitive to society’s failings and cannot resign themselves to “live with it”.

Of course, these few words are not going to change anything. But there is at least a useful aspect to all this: these extreme behaviours force us to look at how dysfunctional we have become, how sick society is, and how sick each one of us is…

How can we heal? Certainly not by castigating these people or by righteously dwelling in the feeling of horror and consternation they inspire: it is too easy and serves no purpose except that of giving us enough good conscience to avoid looking at own failings.

So rather than looking outside, let’s look inside – yes, deep down we know that if we want the world out there to change, we first have to change the world in there – and ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Am I still satisfyingly in touch with my fundamental quest for an ideal world?

  • Or have I somewhat strayed from it? If yes, how and for what reasons? What were/are the consequences, for myself, for others?

  • What have I done or experienced in my life that was totally in harmony with my ideal? What did it do for me? What did it do for others?

  • What can I do on a daily basis to be in tune with my ideal?

  • How can I be an example to encourage others to do the same?

These questions may not seem like much, but they are fairly robust!

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