franceMy thoughts are with the people of Paris…  There is a profound disconnect with these religious extremists and their actions as it relates to the human footprint. I just can’t fathom any gains created by such actions. When we understand the humanity of the world as a collective organism this is a cancer to our wellbeing and future – a complex disease that has been forged from religious dogma, ignorance and a lack of common values. No matter the stark contrasts in culture; there is no justification for errant violence and my heart and energy goes out for the people of France.

What causes this violence? It is as complicated a question that reflects the complex social/political climate of the Middle East. Now, I am not an expert in Middle Eastern politics and sociology but sometimes I feel like I have a better grasp of what is going on than some of our US politicians. It begins with religion; and not just Islam, but Christianity  and Judaism too. If you disagree with that notion then you are also too buried in religious dogma to make a rational synopsis. There is a religious feud and class conflict of cultural values based on religion that spans 2000 years. It is even more complicated within Arab and Middle Eastern cultures with various clans and societal associations fighting for money and power. The struggles between Kurds, Shia Arabs and Sunni Arabs are a good example. We see it in America and western culture too. Remember the Oklahoma City bombings? That was home born religious extremism. Then there is the war on western culture which appears sinful and hedonist to ardent Muslims who interpret the Quran as it was written thousands of years ago when in general society was much more brutal and cut throat. Couple that with western greed and their thirst for oil and profits; the poor standard of living that exists in hot bed countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria and it is a boiling over cauldron of hate that feeds newer generations of Muslim and Middle Eastern children who have little or no future and are taught that western culture is bad. I am not saying this is right and I am definitely not saying that any violence is justifiable (refer to my first paragraph) but this is the situation coupled with many other variables that creates this rift in cultures that again has been present since history itself. US Presidential hopeful and former Governor, Mike Huckabee thinks the Bible should trump the US Supreme Court proving religious zealousness exists in western culture too. Not the same? History has shown that without opposition there is only tyranny. Things have just cooled down lately in western culture; but it was not long ago that people were killed for their scientific beliefs and burned at the stake for alleged witchcraft. Remember the Crusades in history class? The concept of slavery was reinforced by the Bible – so be careful what you defend. All because the Muslim world is leading the charge on beheadings this century does not mean they are leading historically.

How do we stop it? That is a complex question as well. You can’t just bomb extremist groups because all you do is hurt the general public. Boots on the ground is a viable option but it has to be a cautious coalition of Western and Middle Eastern allies with a clear exit strategy. Even then, the casualties will be heavy and a quagmire is possible. And what about the human toll? In the US led Iraq war over 3000 US soldiers died but the Iraqi causalities alone (most of it collateral damage) was in the hundreds of thousands. Is there an exit strategy? There lies more of the complexity – once you pull allied troops and influence out the hot zone the violence and extremism just re-ignites.  Look at Afghanistan since the US has pulled a majority of its troops out – the Taliban has returned.

So it seems you have to stop igniting the hate that breeds this extremism. But will greedy oil companies and the politics interwoven in them stop exploiting the Middle East? And what about the wars that follow in support? We now know the Iraq war was bullshit and anyone that does not see the connection between the rise of ISIS and Bush and Cheney’s wars is living in a Right Wing Republican bubble – Sorry but that involvement did nothing but make Halliburton richer and fan the flames of extremism more. In order to understand the problem you first need to understand that we might be part of the problem. Many people do not see that dynamic and probably don’t care to… Does this mean it is right for extremists to kill people? of course not!  But these extremist do not have large militaries and maniacal corporations to wage their special interests in other countries. All they have is fear mongering and the balls to strap bombs to themselves and kill people – pretty scary shit!  Is western culture going to change its ways? Probably not. Is the US going to pull out of the Middle East and leave Israel to its own devices? Nope…

Hey, if someone comes up to me and tries to kill me, I will defend myself…

But I am not going to prod a huge bee hive just so I can get something sweet. I am not going to walk down a dark, impoverished neighborhood in a decaying US inner city because I know I run the risk of being a target. It is a dangerous and fucked up world out there. The Middle East can be like a bee hive in the back streets of Baghdad.  Religion makes it more messy. Religious dogma breeds isolated thought processes and teaches people to follow doctrine instead of leading with their own heart.  But if everyone lived with a little more compassion and we all realized how our actions might affect each other – maybe there would be less violence. Honestly, I do not see religious extremists changing their ways and I do not see western culture changing its ways. Few people put enough thought into the entire quandary. And fewer people look at both sides of the issues. There lies the problem and coupled with blind faith, religious dogma and ignorance, it is doubtful much will change. I think the first step is understanding that this is a very complex situation that spans thousands of years and is fueled by poverty, ignorance and religions that do not serve the greater good of humanity. Still, killing an innocent person out of hate is the worst kind of karma and negativity. Anyone that thinks a violent action is going to return to them in some positive facet is mistaken. Gravely mistaken!

Again, my heart goes out to those who suffer at the hands of needless violence. Their light and vibration lives on within this grand and beautiful Responsive Universe.

NOTE: The violence in France is sad and unfortunate – but there are Terrorist attacks almost daily in countries that main stream media and people don’t give shit about. The day before Paris there was a terrible bombing in Beirut but no one talks about that – apparently there is no money in advertising and no reach on social media avenues like FB for apparently forgettable countries – something to think about….

John C. Bader is a photographer, wellness advocate and consultant specializing in spiritual self-evolution, meditation, and bio-energy healing. In his writing, he bridges science with spirituality and provides steps to encourage more mindfulness in daily life. His new book, The Responsive Universe – Illumination of the Nine Mandalas is a step by step process on how to begin your very own Hero’s Journey.

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