~ Early this morning I read an article chronicling the suicide death of Jake Bilardi, an 18 year old Australian who, after buying a one-way ticket to Turkey, joined ISIS and committed a suicide bombing mission for that evil militant group.
Bilardi’s life is tragic on many different counts; it is awful that he willingly killed others via his suicide mission of death, it is tragic that he bought into the lies that ISIS and other extremist Islamist groups fed him, and it is an utter shame that Bilardi, and others like him, have become so disenfranchised from Western Culture that they willingly blow themselves up in their hatred of the West.
What is so bad about Western Society that is driving young adults toward such violent extremism? For more than two years I have been writing about Western Culture, chronicling the good, the bad, and the ugly, but at no time in my life have I thought it was so bad that I needed to blow myself up in protest.
The reality of the situation is that Jake Bilardi is representative of many young adults. While the majority of young people are not being driven to the extreme of joining a militant extremist group, the history of Western Culture has always involved people being swayed by cults, religions that brainwash, and altogether innocent looking groups that end up robbing people of their money and dignity.
Televangelists have preyed upon the discontent of people in Western Society for a LONG time. “Send me your money and you’ll have a much better life” they promise their victims. Politicians prey on the masses by spewing out rhetoric like “the audacity of hope” or “We need another Reagan” and before you know, conservative and liberal constituents have suddenly been drawn into the lies and propaganda of their politicians. Local pastors and religious leaders prey on the populace when they promise their congregants a better life if they come and hear a sermon every Sunday and drop their tithe in the collection plate.
A LOT of people want to be top dog. They want followers. They want followers that they can lead and direct and order around. Whether its a politician, the owner of a corporation, a local minister, or the leader of a militant group; there is a fundamental drive in human nature that leads people to wanting power, rather than wanting to serve.
You see, serving others is much more difficult and self-depreciating then being the top dog. Serving others in a spirit of charity involves an entire paradigm shift in our thinking. For Jake Bilardi, it was easier for him to travel to the other side of the world, join a radical fringe group, and blow himself up, then to grasp onto the principle of serving others as Jesus demonstrated with his life.
In Bilardi’s online journal, he suggests that it was the injustice that people in the Middle East experienced at the hands of Western powers which led him to joining their cause. And to Bilardi and others I say, “BULL SHIT”. Because when I see people who are suffering from injustice, my immediate response is NOT to blow myself up!!!! My immediate response is to reach out and serve them;
—) To clothe the naked
—) Feed the hungry
—) Cry with the mourning
—) And to be a friend to those without friends
No, it is not injustice that spurs on the Jake Bilardi’s of this world, it is a misplaced understanding of what it means to live a life of significance. We have been taught by our leaders (pastors, politicians, managers, and bosses) that significance has to do with being in charge or being at the top. Significance, we are taught, is about standing before a bunch of people and having them listen to us speak or preach. Western Culture applauds men like Steve Jobs or Billy Graham who stand before large crowds and speak at them, and too many people buy into the lie that personal significance comes when people notice us.
I would argue that significance has nothing to do with whether or not people notice us. Jesus said it is actually our good deeds done in secret that are a million times more precious than all the things we do when we are in the limelight, and I agree with him.
The life of Jake Bilardi is tragic, and I fear he is merely another example of Western Culture’s faulty philosophy.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society