A new solidarity?

ISIS will have its own intentions, but how we react to hate and provocation will decide our future

GUILFORD — How can one put into words the trauma of a nation?

When writing about the events in Paris, it became clear there is no posture to adopt, no angle from which to write. There is only tragedy, and solidarity with those who are suffering.

Somehow, the Jihadists have lost sight of humanity. It is not the first time in our evolutionary history that a group of people find themselves cut off from the very sentiments that make us human: compassion, and the ability to identify with the needs and hearts of others.

This separation manifests in the efforts of Jihadists to indoctrinate their recruits, some as young as 5 and 6 years old, through desensitization to torture and worse, and to set them on the morbid path of wanton violence.

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An attack on ISIS is not an assault against Islam. ISIS no more represents Islam than Hitler could be said to represent Catholicism (the religion in which he was raised).

Given the opportunity, and access to even more potent weapons, there is no doubt that ISIS would willfully destroy as much of global culture as possible. Theirs is an apocalyptic mission, one that to them will bring on an Armageddon blessed by the Prophet.

While reports of the terrorists' use of PlayStation and the Dark Web to send encrypted messages have been prevalent in the news in recent days, the goals of ISIS are in fact archaic, based on medieval interpretations of Islam.

Looking back even farther, one might say that very little has changed in the course of human development in perhaps 40,000 years.

The behaviors of terrorists are the same as those of our distant ancestors. The tools of those behaviors have become refined, but we have not.

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Yet in every scene of depraved violence, there are moments of heroism, of people helping one another from a place of simple nobility.

At the Bataclan, a pregnant woman hanging from a ledge was rescued by a man who, at his own peril, pulled her to safety from the window above. That man and that woman have reunited since the atrocities occurred and now have a personal bond that will never be broken.

Last week also rolled out a new cooperation between Russia, France, and the United States. Yes, this cooperation is a reaction to political aggression, but it might usher in a time in which cooperation triumphs over divisiveness between peoples and nations. One can hope.

We are a culture under siege. ISIS will have its own intentions, but how we react to hate and provocation will decide our future.

In the immediate sense, a military response is clearly necessary. Taking the longer view, a new solidarity among nations might ultimately defeat ISIS - and leave us with a freer and safer world.

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