So I just finished reading a book called “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman. I have had a bookmark in it for two years but have just recently actually been reading it. For those who are not familiar with the book, the claim that the world is flat has little to do with physical shape of the earth, but with how technology and free-trade have enabled various peoples to play on a level playing ground.
Anyways toward of the book the author acknowledging that the world is not totally “flat”. That there are parts of the world that are somewhat disconnected and are “un-flat”. One of these is within the Islamic-Arab nations. I have never understood exactly why there are Muslim terrorists, and I suppose it had always caused some confusion. Why would these people what to cause terror? I had heard that they did not agree with our lifestyle and this was their way to fight against it. At the same time there are a lot of people whom I come in disagreement with their lifestyle, and my last thought would be it causes them to experience terror as an alternative. Why is it that the radical extremists of Islam would actually go against the charitable, loving aspects of their religion to terrorize others?
Thomas Friedman explains that it is because of a “cognitive dissonance” that takes place. I guess a cognitive dissonance is what happens when someone holds to two contradictory views. In my world religions class I was taught that many Muslims believe that Islam is the correct and best way of life and that following it correctly will lead to not only to spiritual well-being but also temporal prosperity. I understand they believe that Islam is the way this should be done and that eventually everyone will follow Islamic principles. The contradiction comes into play when young Muslims visit western culture and see prosperity and contrasts that to the poverty of those whom they just came from.
Mr. Friedman writes of Arab-Muslim young people:
“They have been raised to believe that Islam is the most Perfect and complete expression of God’s Monotheistic message and that the Prophet Muhammad is God’s last and most perfect messenger. This is not a criticism. This is Islam’s self identity. Yet in a flat world, these youth, particularly those living in Europe, can and do look around and see that the Arab-Muslim world, in too many cases, has fallen behind the rest of the planet. It is not living as prosperously or democratically as other civilizations. How can that be? These young Arabs and Muslims must ask themselves. If we have the superior faith, and if our faith is all encompassing of religion, politics, and economics, why are others living so much better”?
He continued: “Indeed, talk to Arabs and Muslims anywhere, and this cognitive dissonance and the word ‘humiliation’ always comes up very quickly in conversation…It has always been my view that terrorism is not spawned by the poverty of money. It is spawned by the poverty of dignity. Humiliation is the most underestimated force in international relations and human relations. It is when people or nations are humiliated that they really lash out and engage in extreme violence. When you take the economic and political backwardness of much of the Arab Muslim world today, add its past grandeur and self-image of religious superiority and combine it with discrimination and alienation these Arab-Muslim males face when they leave home and move to Europe, or when they grow up in Europe, you have one powerful cocktail of rage.”
Obviously nobody knows what exactly makes terrorists do what they do, but this is an explanation that at least made sense to me. Who knows if it is correct.