This has probably been done before in previous threads, but today, as I was reading the news on the latest video by al-Zawahiri I couldn't help but notice the similarities between their "warnings" and "invitations" to convert to Islam and how the JW's phrase their message in much the same way. Of course, the JW's do not directly threaten others as these fundamentalists do, but they threaten in an oblique way; by using their interpretation of the Bible with the imminent threat of Armageddon. Here are the words from the video:
"We invite all Americans and believers to Islam, whatever their role and status in Bush and Blair's world order. Decide today, because today could be your last day."
When I read that, it just sounded so much like what the JW's preach, that everyone should recieve an "invitation" to convert because the end could be at any time. The intended effect is fear and desperation. Why would any supposedly loving God use fear to get people to convert? Of course, that is part of another topic, but it does show how religious fundamentalism or extremism of any kind can only rely on fear to convert people, since it is way beyond common sense, compassion, and understanding.
I guess another intended effect is for people to dwell on their mortality and what they put faith in. I think these fundamentalists are trying to exploit much of the American population's lack of firm values and beliefs. It has been observed for a long time (most notably since the 1920's), the descent of American values into increasingly hedonistic consumerism. The population that is part and parcel of the consumerist way of life are probably the ones who are most vulnerable to the fear of their mortality, since all emphasis in their life is put on the present state, the moments of satisfaction and gratification. Those that are seperate from the consumerists are the ones who have a chance to experience meaninful solitude, reflect on their past, and plan for their future, understanding and accepting their mortality, regardless of what may lie beyond. These people may resent their obligation to support the current cutural/religious/economic system, constantly fighting for freedom of thought. These people are the true enemies of the Islamic extremists, and the worst householders for JW's, since they are not easily "led astray."
As I have grown older, I have come to realize the dire importance of independence. Independence for the sake of itself is worth fighting for, regardless of the dangers that others try to get us to believe are present. Dependence of thought, for me, has come to represent a dragon, something trully terrifying. That dragon becomes mishapen and unclear when the dependence is only in the form of mass media and the group-society-think of our modern economic system, but takes on its true colors and form when it is represented by the fundamentalist extremists. It is not their threats of violence that is terrifying, but their demand for dependence of mind and soul.
I have come to embrace my own independence, even though at times it may seem like stubbornness, vanity, or resentment of personal weakness. I think it is the only way to trully accept oneself and therefore accept others, which may be the catch-22 when it comes to how to deal with terrorists and other fundamentalists like JW's. If you fight them, they all become martyrs and their faith strenghtens, because they don't hate you for who you are, but what you represent. And so how do we deal with them? I know I'm not going to win any Nobel prize here, (many others have pointed this out already), but I think something that would help is to ignore them. Now, I don't mean "turn the other cheek" when they blow up our buildings, but to stop covering every single brainfart that is paraded on video to the entire world. Sop giving them the opportunity to become martyrs. Now, of course, this seems in direct conflict with freedom of the press, but I am talking at a more basic level than that. It is really a paradigm shift which I am referring to - perhaps one that is inevitable. Eventually, people normalize their routines and life goes on. Eventually, I think, people will just stop listening to these people or constantly getting their bowels in an uproar over what they say. So what if some guy in a turban hates the Western World - life goes on and we care less and less. That is much the same way society treats the JW's now. Back in the day, the JW's got a lot of attention for their "snare and a racket" campaigns, but now, even with the constant message of doom and gloom and the "critical times," people largely ignore them. Because what else are you going to do? No one can live in "constant expectation" forever. You have to get on with your life. We see that even in war-torn countries, where the threat of violence is constantly present. This is why fundamentalism always fades away, because it demands too much dependence on anticipation or dread, and in a sense, too much energy.
Well, this treatise is long enough. Excuse me for my ramblngs. I don't know if I'm making much sense, but I just felt the need to express a few things.