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Thoughts on Nihilism

Jean-Jullien_illustration_Peace-for-Paris_attacks_dezeen_square-300x300I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the sad events in Beirut and Paris last week. Sometimes it seems like the world has gone mad.

Like you, I’ve tried to untangle the ISIS skein of fuckupedness. I’ve simply concluded that it’s nihilism — destruction for destruction’s sake. Signifying nothing but dark, impenetrable evil. Sure, it’s wrapped up in radical Islam, but that’s just a convenient, grandiose veneer, in my opinion. God Sanctioned My Butchery!

This isn’t organized religion — it’s organized sociopathy.

And for that reason, I believe, it ultimately will fail. For starters, how many converts want to kill themselves? Enough to cause a lot of devastation, yes. But I think these ISIS freaks will snuff themselves out. Well, if Putin doesn’t get to them first. (Really, you want to shoot a plane down over Russia? You want to piss THAT guy off?)

What I’m struck with, when I think of the victims of ISIS is, how pointless it all is. How impersonal. To be blown up as a political gesture. A demonstration of “might” that signifies what exactly? That you can take a target as soft as melted Brie — Parisians in a cafe? Beirut women shopping in a market? And hurt them? Wow, what else can you do? Drown kittens? Steal candy from toddlers? Boy, aren’t you fierce.

I’m also struck by the thought of some teenager wearing a suicide vest — you were somebody’s baby. Someone invested in you. Someone rocked you to sleep and fed you and cared for you when you were a vulnerable infant. By destroying yourself, you’ve destroyed all their efforts to raise you and keep you alive and safe. Maybe ISIS pays your survivors. Maybe you’re a pawn in a terrorist’s game. Maybe no one cares if you live or die and that’s why you did it. Maybe you thought this was a way to Be Significant. Maybe you’re just an incendiary ball of hate and you shouldn’t stand near matches. You baffle me.

But what impresses me is the bravery of Adel Termos, who foiled one suicide bomber in Beirut.

The carnage in Beirut was likely mitigated, however, by the heroic behavior of one man, Adel Termos. Termos was in the market with his young daughter and witnessed the first explosion. Reportedly, he saw another bomber preparing to detonate, and jumped into action.

“He tackled him to the ground, causing the second suicide bomber to detonate,” Elie Fares, a Beirut-based physician, told PRI. “There are many, many families, hundreds of families probably, who owe their completeness to his sacrifice.”

Termos was killed in the explosion. (It’s believed that his daughter survived.)beirut

For one nihilistic nut job, there is a super human like Termos, and there are millions of others who face terror with resiliency and defiance. Let’s be inspired by their example. Prayers to all who are bereaved by these senseless killings.

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  • From my Army training, always attack THROUGH the ambush.

    Don’t sit there waiting to be killed. Termos did just that. You may or may not survive. But your chances are close to zero if you sit back and do nothing.

    It’s like that for many things in life. No matter the manner of disorder, attack through the ambush.

    • Great advice in both a literal sense, and in a metaphorical one as well. Be proactive, take control, do something! Don’t let life happen to you by default.

    • I think learned that on 9-11. No use waiting and hoping that the terrorists will let you or their hostages live (they won’t). I think what we realized on 9-11 is that if we’re gonna go down, we may as well go down fighting. No longer will we sit there terrified “hoping” the shoe bomber or the terrorists on the train or the hostage taker in the theater will release us or others unharmed (they won’t).

    • So true Uniballer: All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing. Edmond Burke.

      Not only do they throw the nurturing that their families, mothers, etc gave them, these sociopaths throw God’s love back in His face. This life is worth nothing, to them they must throw it away for their own grandiosity. It does not profit God. It benefits no one.

  • Just had this conversation re: What Kind of People DO This? And For WHAT?

    No different from the Lockerbie group, the ever-infighting between Arabic nations and Israel, our own Civil War, Serbia/Croatia….

    It’s is sociopathic. Which is why I get so freaking pissed off about my first world problems created by my very own sociopath. I don’t believe in calling innocent victims Collateral in getting what you want by any means necessary.

    • You make a good point, ANC. I get angry at my cheater when he discusses these tragedies. He will go on ad nauseum about how crazy and wrong the perpetrators are and the injustice at killing the innocent. In no way do these horrific events compare to our own personal shitstorms but it is another opportunity for cheaters to show us how little they care about what they have done to their families.

  • In a way, and I said this on the forums – a lot of parallels can be drawn between these nutjobs, and the nutjob cheaters we have, at least mindset-wise. Obviously, the loss of human life is not a fair comparison to make, however.
    Selfish entitlement, and not giving a fuck as to what is caused damage. Causing a path of destruction ‘just because’.
    These bastards deserve a fate worse than hell itself.

  • I am an atheist. Was raised catholic. Religion can be such a positive comforting thing. I would never deny anyone their faith or not, but this is insane. These crazy fanatics are just plain evil.

  • To paraphrase a famous saying ‘ Evil thrives when good men and women do nothing.” This is the extreme example of courage and connectedness, automatic and without hesitation that inspires us to act cooperatively and proactively to bring this evil to an end. It is also a story of courage and love that is absolutely lost in the din of grieving and hatred that is rising from these heinous acts. It is only with Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters that we will be able to face down this death cult wearing the guise of Islam. Let us pray that this comes of that and that the sacrifices of Adel Termos and those like him will “trend” in the world to confront this death cult.

    Just yesterday I was using these very same words Nihilism and Sociopathy, “War and lechery,” While uttering prayers for resolution, restoration and healing.

  • Thank you for this post. In talking to my teenagers about these killers, it is interesting to note that these killers have no demands on them. They have no responsibilities. What happens after you get control? Do you build houses and schools? No, you don’t do anything but hate. It’s ultimate arrogance to believe your way is the way.

  • Thank you for including Beirut. We hear little about the frequent killings of other Muslims, but as soon as white, ostensibly Christian folks are killed the western world loses it’s mind.

    • Please dont say incendiary stuff like this. This has very little to do with racism as you imply, and more to do with the sad fact that the first time it happens its news, but when sucide bombings have been going off in Beirut since the 1970s it is no longer news. No one feels that Lebanese lives do not matter, it is just that we recognize that they are living in a war zone. That Paris is a war zone is news to us, and everyone ir right to lose their minds.

    • Borrowed from what I posted on Facebook:

      I’ve observed some complaints about how much press the Paris attacks are getting compared to other horrible events in the world. Short history lesson for some in America, there would not be a USA if not for the help and assistance we received from France. France is our oldest ally. So in some sense, it’s like a tragedy happened to a family member.

      So if we are more vocal or more invested in what happened in Paris, it’s not because we are racist or bigoted. It’s because we had a tragedy in the family. Much like people not showing up at the funerals of strangers says nothing regarding any -ism you might wish to paint on them. Saying more about a tragic event with our oldest ally compared to other events means just that. A long-term friend or family member we know well us suffering a crisis. A crisis we feel as well.

      I don’t think anyone wants to see others suffer. But we all must admit that some tragedies strike closer to our hearts than others. Not because we hate, but because we don’t share the same long term relationships with everyone. Just as each of us has people we are close to and others who are not as close, the same applies to our international relationships.

      It is unrealistic to expect that we have the same sort of relationship with everyone. That is true of personal relationships and of international relationships.

    • this got cut off from my copy and paste….

      So to those complaining about our closeness with France, nothing prevents you from having your own, closer relationship with your favorites and no one forces you to have a relationship you don’t wish to have. Enjoy your freedom and support those to whom you feel lead to support. Allow others the freedom to do the same.

    • WhichWay — I think you have a fair point. Maybe it’s harder for someone from the west to identify with a Kenyan student or a Nigerian school girl, or someone from Lebanon. I think we reflexively shrug — Oh, Those Troubled Countries. Bad Things Always Happen There. Whereas we’d honeymoon in Paris.

      But an innocent victim is an innocent victim. Whether that’s a mother in Beirut or in Paris.

      I also think it’s important not to conflate Islam with terrorism — and note that the great hero in the Beirut story was a fellow Muslim. And ISIS is killing Muslims too, of course.

      Sociopathy is a rainbow nation. And so are its victims.

    • I think it’s more about shaking expectations than about caring more about one ethnic group over another. Rightly or wrongly, we’ve grown to expect this kind of violence in the middle east, but not in Paris. I know a lot of people in Israel, white American ex-pats and Jews of European descent. I know more people in Israel than I do in Paris, but still the violence in Paris is harder to cope with than violence in Israel because I expect it in one place but not the other. I wouldn’t feel particularly safe in Beirut or Tel Aviv at the moment, but I would have felt safe in Paris. Similarly, I would be highly disturbed if something like this happened in Jordan because it’s a place that seems SAFE. So for me, it’s not about religion or ethnicity, it’s about bursting a bubble of perceived security.

  • I spent the whole weekend in the house. First time in a long time. I sat at my kitchen table and thought what if today is the day? What if there is no tomorrow? Why was I given another day? To sit and bitch and moan? To make a differnce? To be apart of something more than myself?
    What if this is it? It aint getting any better than this? Would it be so bad?
    I am tired of fighting. I am tired of violence. I am tired of trying to understand why some people are just evil.

  • Just posted the article on my FB page…the social media outlet I’m thinking of closing down for awhile. FB seems to have it’s own breed of nilhilism and sociopathy that I am finding more and more disturbing.

    • I agree Chumpy. That’s why I haven’t logged into FB for over 6 months. If people want to talk to me or ask me how I am doing, they can call me.
      As far as the shit that happened in Paris on Friday – I’m heartbroken, yet not surprised. I just don’t understand why there is so much hate toward innocent people.
      Sad.

  • ISIS wants everyone in the world to be afraid. Well, fuck that. Their random attack strategy is exactly what makes me not give a fuck. There’s no predicting it, so therefore there’s nothing I can do about it and no point in worrying. I’m devoting my mental energy to better things (anything other than terrorists).

  • Cowards, spineless and evil. No God would sanction this. Thank you (as always) for posting such a thoughtful article. RIP Paris and Beirut.

  • It seems like an EXTREME offshoot of the Reality Shoe mentality we have here. Get your name out there any way possible. A sex tape, a Hollywood “cat fight” or outlandish behavior of any kind. Get your own Wikipedia page, name in the media, most followers, etc. Be famous-main goal by any means in some cases. Long shot from ISIS, but it is more me, me me.
    The whole world is talking about them.
    Cheaters are very selfish as well, but the collateral damage may or may not be intentional. With ISIS, collateral damage is the whole point.
    Bet that many in this group who wanted their name out there are actually jealous of those that inflicted so much damage and have gone down in infamy.
    Sure hope CL is right that there will be a limited number willing to lose it all. But it does remind of the gang mentality and how the more damaging you can be, the higher your persona. Even if death is the outcome.
    The soft target of course is to get everyone the world over scared they will be next. More bang for the buck and makes them feel that they have this great power to scare/terrorize.
    And you are right Nancy, they have no good things in mind when/if they are done, just destroy what others have built.

  • It certainly takes a mindset foreign to our culture for a parent to sacrifice their minor child to the jihadist cause. Better to revere a family member as martyr than celebrate their beauty in life? This is such an old fight, the atrocities from another age, the recapture of lost lands, the rebuilding of the Caliphate. The terrorists are resolute. Free speech, opposition denied.
    Thankfully in the West, our rants against the abuses of infidelity and the disordered are heard, understood, and acknowledged on some level by most people. Culture of death, and conversion at the point of a sword is incomprehensible to us and threats by ISIS of attacks in this country are not likely to hasten our understanding.

    • Tracie, you hit the intellectual nail on the head calling this crap out for the nihilistic spew it is. As one of my fields of research, I was astounded (and horrified) early on to find that this brand of hate is an ideology wrapped in Marxism and existentialism (hence the nihilism)–and, I mean that they literally and openly use these in their writings.

      The killing of innocent people is simply unimaginable to me no matter what ideological excuse these spineless asshats use. It is absolutely heart-wrenching. Those poor families.

      But, thank you for sharing the story of the gentleman in Beirut. As others have mentioned, the best defense is one hell of a good offense. It appears he saved his daughter as well as hundreds of others. That is heroism–that is the opposite of nihilism.

    • Didn’t mean to ignore Termos’ heroism. In saving or trying to save his daughter, he placed value in his child’s life and not death and martyrdom as the jihadists. He is that good man who paid the ultimate price in hopes that evil would not flourish.

  • I lost a sister in 9/11 attacks. Still, to this day, I don’t understand how someone can be so callous and just disregard life in such a manner. I guess I will never understand. Maybe I shouldn’t even try anymore. I don’t know.

    If you’re angry, pist off at life, go blow yourself up, don’t hurt others. What statement are you trying to make other than… YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE!?!

    Events such as these make my heart hurt, for my girls, for their future…FOR HUMANITY.

    I spent the weekend at my parents house as such events like this just bring back the hurt, the sadness, the loneliness we feel without our sister here with us.

    But we move forward, forward to make this a better place for our future generations and teach them that this is simply NOT the answer.

    • TodoVa so sorry for your loss, I am glad you were able to be with your family this weekend. I think of families like yours when these things happen, how it must bring up the grief afresh. Peace be with you

  • Thanks for this post, CL. So helpful to be reminded of good people and heroes in the face of senseless violence. I was feeling a little overwhelmed and some lost hope after the recent news. It brought back thoughts of 9/11 and the emotions of that time – horror, disbelief, sorrow. I thought about why is there so much suffering, why are we here at all if we have to put up with such cruelty. It seems all this big drama of good versus evil is somehow planned or necessary, even if I wish it weren’t so. How do we have heaven while here on earth? Life is such a big test.

    I spent the weekend looking at 9/11 documentaries. Watched some very heavy youtube videos. BUT I also found many tales of courage; people coming to the aid of complete strangers, saving lives (Inside the Twin Towers is particularly good). Wow, the heroes on Flight 93 who prevented the deaths of many more people that day (it’s a movie I still cannot watch in full; barely made it through the 18-minute ending segment posted on youtube); my respect and awe for those passengers.

    Saw a quote someone posted online a couple days ago, “Having a soft heart in a cruel world is COURAGE, not Weakness.” I printed that on a piece of paper and stuck it in my journal, so I can remind myself to be brave.

  • This situation is still too painful and confusing, so here are some random thoughts…

    I actually don´t think that people were mourning for Paris only…from my FB comments it became clear that Paris victims reminded us of those victims of senseless violence everywhere else, but not at home. The US has its own strange breed of terrorists who shoot defenseless victims in schools or universities, maybe not for religious reasons, but possibly for the same reason that they expect to be killed during the attack and then their names may at least be remembered for their crime.

    I hate when these killers are referred to as “animals” and that they are “inhuman”. I think that humans are the only animals that consciously destroy their environment and kill their own, and have as a purpose in life of exterminating groups of their own species (remember the Holocaust? Rwanda?—etc, etc…)

    And another thought: we shouldn´t blame the victims who didn´t “attack through the ambush” …maybe someone who has military training will do that, but for people who have never been exposed to such violence, their instinct was to survive by doing what the terrorists asked them to do. Some survived by playing dead or hiding or others gave their own lives by protecting someone else with their body. So, I wouldn´t judge how people reacted in such an unforeseen situation…

    Maybe the only thing we can do is be more conscious of how we love or how we hate, who we discriminate in our own societies, who we vote for, when do we ignore what goes on in the rest of the world, how we contribute to destroy our environment.. just thinking out loud….

  • “This is… huh… not small…” said the Dracula of the West, baring his teeth. The room was giggling. What he was showing, was a huge bomb that was going to be dropped over the city of an old sovereign country. A country where people were going on with their lives, totally unable to understand why the Leader of the Free World would suddenly decide to attack them. The memories still fill me with horror. The world would never be the same. The Leader we used to look up to, was sowing lies, hate and injustice, with the arrogance of a bully in a school yard. From Nayirah and the Kuwaiti Incubator Baby hoax that made fat women on Oprah jump in the air to demand war, to what we get now at home, I see a long series of causes and consequences, of injustice and retaliation, with so many manipulation of the public that it becomes hard to have an opinion at all. So sorry for the lives of the innocents that were lost in this sick “game”.

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