The Single Stage of Radicalization

The Washington Post just published an article with the most baffling headline.  “Attacker in Nice is said to have radicalized ‘very rapidly'”  Eh?  What in God’s good name does that mean?

Is there a process for radicalization?  A methodology in which he skipped some of the steps?  Is it like a surgery where he went into the operating room as a normal human being and three short hours later, instead of the ten that the procedure normally takes, he emerged as a religion-crazed cold-blooded killer?  Or is it like a treatment plan, a course of antibiotics thxbattery-phone-charging-29-1467204409.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.lJOclKVvn1at he needed to complete in three weeks to have the full effect?  One pill in the morning, one at night?  Or is it like the five stages of grief, where you can track your progress as you descend into the darkness?  Perhaps it is more like my iPhone battery.  25% Radicalized.  50% Radicalized.  Charging at a rate of 1% per second.  100% Radicalized and ready to kill.

This is the language of Science Fiction.  It is the philosophy of movies like The Matrix and Equilibrium.  While the idea makes great art, it has no roots in reality.

If you’ve ever been human in this reality, you know it doesn’t work like that.  You get out of bed every morning, just like this killer did, and you have choices to make.  These choices sometimes come without deliberation like “I’ll have eggs instead of cereal this morning.”  Others come at the end of a process of thinking like “I’ll submit my application to Durham University instead of NYU this morning.”  That process of thinking can take months or minutes.  And then there is the crazy shit like “I’ll run a lorry into a crowd of people this morning.”  But still, no matter the thought before, the decision is made in an instant.  It can also be unmade in an instant.

Take for instance, the person who walks into their office one day and hates the place so much that they have the sudden urge to set the bitch on fire.  Have you ever been there?  I have.  You can’t see me but I’m raising my hand right here at my desk.  You know what happens next for normal people?  We turn around and walk out.  Or we go to the toilets and wash our face.  Or we sit our civilized backside down at our desk and get some work done.  All in an instant.

But no.  Mr. Nice Guy had to go kill a bunch of people.

This is not a Muslim issue.  This is not a gun issue.  This isn’t a lorry drivers’ issue.  This is not a European or French issue.  You know it.  You also know it takes NO TIME AT ALL for some people to get that crazy.

We live in a tinderbox time.  People are angry.  Lots of them.  People are being left to die avoidable deaths.  Lots of them.  People are suffering in the impact of avoidable conflicts.  Lots of them.  How long does it take to set the box on fire?  How long does it take to radicalize an angry, terrified, white cop into putting three bullets into a car full of black people?  How long does it take to radicalize the ‘badman’ in downtown Kingston into murdering a couple of harmless homosexual boys?

It takes a second.

Our enemy is not who we think it is.  Our enemy is Fear.  And every day, with every act of violence in this terrified world, more recruits are joined to it’s cause.  And yes, they are radicalized “very rapidly”.  In a single stage.  The stage of FEAR.

Be the love.  Let the religion, color, occupation, and radicalization of LOVE win.

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