When we consider the brutal executions conducted by the ISIS, we are rightly appalled, or at least we should be. But a closer look at today’s frenzy of Islamist fundamentalism reveals a deeper level of human agony.
Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning immortalized Nietzsche’s saying, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Frankl was right in identifying that having a cause is a source of strength, but there is much more to it than that.
In our postmodern world, the search for meaning is crucial to our survival, especially in the Western world. Here the struggle for provision of sustenance has been won ages ago, and what’s left is to find out how we want to spend our lives. No smartphone in the world will make us happy. They only mask our isolation and provide false connectivity, when inside we’re only getting lonelier and emptier. If you look at the growing depression rates throughout the West, it’s hardly a surprise that ISIS is finding new recruits so readily. Among their ranks, no one is depressed.
They can’t be; they have a purpose!
And that’s not all. ISIS is declaring that its goal is to conquer the world and turn all of us into devout Muslims, or face beheading. Indeed, the thrill of a just, bloody struggle can be so compelling it can turn many people blind.
What is the alternative?
The alternative is to offer people an alternative purpose!
Fundamentalist Islam is struggling for the essence and meaning of life, nothing less. But in the end, killing will not get them there. The essence and meaning of life come from our connection with other people, not from destroying other people.
Life exists where mutuality and reciprocity abound. Where self-absorbed consumption of others exists there is cancer and death. As I already wrote in Self-Interest vs. Altruism, each higher level in the hierarchy of life consists of greater complexity, built on greater mutual dependence, yielding greater health and longevity.
Only we humans think that by killing others we will somehow make ourselves better off. By killing others we destroy connections; it is a no win situation. But there is no way to know until we begin to implement it and see that where there is connection, there is power, vitality, and joy. And where there is isolation, there is emptiness and sadness that lead to extremism.
As a scientist and Kabbalist, I see that the same rule applies to every aspect of our lives: connection means life!
This is why my organization offers all its information free of charge. Making this accessible to everyone at this point in human history is mandatory not just for our well-being, but for our very existence.