Now, Manchester. Today our hearts are in the great, wounded British city. Sadly, so many times, we’ve been here before. But while we pause and pray, let’s be clear what gets us here–and how to stop coming ’round again.
Manchester is not a Muslim act. It is not a religious act. It is not a secular act. It is a fanatical act. Fanatics are ideologues who are so afraid of the world being different from them that they cannot accord the world, or the other people who share it with them, the privilege of existing in a manner other than the one in which they demand them to exist.
Fanatics are created from a sense of disconnect, powerlessness, and an intensely radical and consistently misguided literal belief in the words of their holy texts—whether those texts be ancient or modern, allegedly biblical or allegedly scientific. Fanatics have killed in the name of the holy texts of every religion, every political and economic ideology, and every scientific school of thought on earth. In every instance, their actions have been a betrayal of the texts and beliefs they hold most dear.
Inside the murderous Manchester fanatic who happened to be Muslim is the same home-grown murderous American Christian fanatic, murderous Israeli Jewish fanatic, murderous Thai Buddhist fanatic. The Communists who have killed for ideology. The Capitalists who have killed for oil. The scientists who created technologies of war capable of murdering entire cities in a second that have already been used to that end. And on endlessly across time and around the world. So if you think Islam makes a murderer, then whatever secular or religious holy texts to which you hew make you a potential murderer, too.
The only other option is according yourself and everyone around you the same compassion that understands fear and pain and disconnectedness drive acts like Manchester. Not religions of sisterhood and brotherhood. Not ideologies of scientific enlightenment. Not God. Only the acts and beliefs of human beings, as we gratuitously decide to move our hearts further and further apart. The more you label, the more you disconnect, The more you create us versus them in the deepest part of your being, the more you bring the fanaticism into being.
Don’t kid yourself. There is no middle ground. Being only a little hateful is like being only a little pregnant. The end result will always be the same. Your refuge from your own fear and pain about the world will never, ever be found down that self-rationalizing road. That way dwells only more of the same. The only other option comes down to one thing.
Otherwise, love. Otherwise love.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.