The recent massacres in Paris clearly underline the danger that a free and open society offers, to those who would make use of it for their own ends.
In spite of the widespread expressions of unity among western nations towards this danger, the battle against extremism in all of its forms continues along quite predictable lines. The very method employed to pursue these misguided people unfortunately plays right into their hands. For while force certainly brings about results, it can never create a solution; it cannot — by its nature — bring about a lasting peace.
In fact, combat breeds even more resentment. Any unprejudiced glance back at recent history will make that evident. For example, in the last world war, the Nazis were defeated outwardly, but their ideology is still being carried on by untold numbers of people. The same can be said for the various warring factions in the Middle East today. Violence breeds violence! How many centuries will it take before we finally grasp that?
Consider the fact that some of the terrorists in Paris were quite willing to blow themselves up, once they had killed as many people as possible; that they were quite happy to die because they would become martyrs for their cause; and that they genuinely believed that they would enjoy a time of great happiness, after their sacrificial death.
Such ideas are quite foreign to our western minds, for our respect for all life is foremost. But our attitude towards these ideas is in any case quite irrelevant, because it is nevertheless these ideas that are among the motivating forces behind the actions of these terrorists. Such ideas drive them on to carry out their unspeakable acts. Indeed, behind virtually all of the wars going on at this time, we will find certain ideas, and it is these that are the source of unmitigated belligerence. The question then is not one of weaponry and might but of ideas.
Not for one moment should the fight against extremism in any of its forms be given up. We must continue to combat it, wherever it raises its ugly head. The courage of those whom we remembered on Remembrance Day must not be in vain. But unless the ideas that spur on these terrorist deeds are tackled with the same vigour and determination that goes into supplying war zones with men and equipment, these wars will continue, far into the future.
We need to turn our attention to the ideas that fuel the minds of these people. As long as the west continues to regard terrorism as something to do outward battle with, so long will terrorism grow. Let us rouse ourselves from our complacency, thinking perhaps that such awful things could not happen here. Let us examine the very ideas that motivate these people to carry out such massacres. Let us carry the fight right into their ideology, and examine the flaws in their thinking. Let us expose their fragile and mistaken beliefs to the light of day. It only requires courage to do so. Surely we have that?