“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.” Victor Emil Frankl
The double attractiveness of jihad is that Westerners fear it yet need it.
While it started as a call to self-control, jihad was eventually re-framed to mean the battle to bring the whole unbelieving and rebellious world into submission to Allah.Hence its appeal to fanatical Imams who ask their vulnerable recruits, “Are you willing to give your life to bring in God’s rule on earth? It is the only hope your children have for a better world.”
Most Westerners have no high and holy calling that demands something of them.
We are no longer asking young Westerners to do anything other than have fun and consume. Why? Because we’ve been told we have a sacred duty to keep the ground of our being, the economy, ticking over.
The motto of modern Western man is “I shop therefore I exist.” But what if, in an attempt to save the economy, politicians have chopped programs and have shown lack of respect for the existence of young people and the battlers? What if the economy sidelines the unemployed without disposable income, who simply can’t shop? Why would they feel a loyalty to a system that leaves them feeling bereft?
We were meant to live a life beyond our possessions and our ego.
If abuse is, as I believe, my using you to meet my needs without taking into consideration your highest good, a case can be made that Western young people have become the victims of a mindless and abusive economy. This is even more galling when we that our economy is in trouble because those we trusted to run things, whom we were expected to emulate, have themselves lacked inner moral values and have surrendered to the seduction of greed.
Time and again, when there is an economic downturn, the first services to be cut are those that are meant to support the vulnerable and the young. After all, they are not a part of a power block and are probably not able to vote any way. So when governments have to tighten their belt, the first services to go are not the wages of the captains of industry, or the politicians. No! Out go resources for youth, family, health and educational services.
We have fed our young people on the husks of consumerism and wonder why they are spiritually malnourished, and extremely vulnerable to any plausible call to a cause greater than themselves. The most sensitive among them can tell they have been betrayed. Any society whose young people feel it has forgotten its responsibility to them, should prepare itself for a generation that will feel no responsibility for it.
We have fed them with husks and wonder why their spirits are hungry for more.
The cultural elites of the West have taken aim at our cultural roots – the Judeo- Christian God and the revelation of moral values and life they provided. Some, either deliberately or unwittingly, began a process designed to undermine the cultural underpinnings of the West. In doing so, they mindlessly began to drain the heart commitment to the rich spirituality that had grown in the West over the previous 2,000 years. Marriage, family, duty , the need for honesty and self- discipline – the very things that made the West functional and productive – have been undermined. We have chopped down the tree of the Ten Commandments and Judeo -Christian values, and now wonder why we hunger for the fruit they used to bear.
When a commitment to a shared moral frame- work disappears, so does trust.
Regrettably, Western Christianity had let itself get caught up in the sectarian quest for power. The vicious internal Protestant vs Catholic battle for power and influence presented itself as an ideological battle. During the Reformation, logic and so-called reason, recruited the left hemisphere of the brain to fight for the supremacy of certain religious ideas, seducing the universities and colleges of Europe. Unfortunately, the inner disciplines and awareness essential to the emergence of truth and justice tended to become blunted and removed from the centre of consciousness.
While people were arguing and not listening, the ego-driven mind with its need to look good and be right, was taking charge. This ego-dominated lack of true spirituality, produced arrogance, two World Wars and the atom bomb.
Had Christians spent more time living by faith rather than arguing about it, they would have given the 21st century a moral map equal to its challenges. But the battle continues to rage. Who will do the work? History has frequently shown us what happens when the ego’s quest for power is overworked to the detriment of a quest for illumination and the recovery of the inner spiritual disciplines.
Spiritual discipline would have nourished the masses.
This is the inner discipline that would enable the uneducated masses to hear the voice of God through their spirit, and to discern for themselves – from the Bible, their sacred text – life giving values for daily living. Religion and spirituality are often tainted by ego needs and a quest for power, so are seen as more of a problem than a potential help. As an apprentice jeweller in precious-metals I found there were many disciplines that needed to become trade skills before I could go about the business of designing and crafting high class jewellery. Many of us are unable to create happy marriages and beautiful families, neither can we find our unique life purpose, because we have not had the life mentors to teach us the disciplines.
It is interesting to note the early followers of Jesus saw themselves as life apprentices, or disciples. A disciple is one learning the disciplines of their life profession. It is also interesting to note that the word disciple is mentioned 269 times in the New Testament while the word Christian, is found only three times.
It was Viktor Frankl who said, “If we no longer know what we ought to do we will no longer know what we want to do and we will find ourselves in an existential vacuum the clearest evidence of which, is boredom.”