We all want to feel significant, popular, loved, purpose driven, we want to contribute to a cause bigger than ourselves, these motivations seem to be very fundamental human needs. The trouble is when fundamental needs become fundamentalist crimes…
The journalists behind the cartoons used their graphic, creative talent to make their mark on the world, as an expression of their beliefs and their identities. The people that killed them used their talents to rob others of their lives. It seems to me the proper answer to a satirical cartoon is… a satirical cartoon. Or a letter explaining why you don’t like the cartoon.
The need for significance of the attackers was so great they wanted to turn to something much more invasive than a cartoon. The net result however is that the thing they’ve attacked is now getting more exposure than it would ever have had without their brutal attack. It was the wrong sort of response morally, tactically and strategically. Yet I’m sure the people behind the crime are feeling very proud of themselves right now. They did something in line with their beliefs, for a cause bigger than themselves. It was self defeating what they did, but they don’t see it that way.
What made these people turn to killing others to realize themselves, to make their mark on the world?
Why did the journalists try to make their mark on the world with a cartoon and not a gun?
Did the killers not have the same opportunities? What makes people turn to fundamentalist beliefs in order to feel good about themselves? Why were orthodox ways of feeling signficant not good enough for them? Were these closed to them?
What they did is very wrong, but we need not only condemn, we also need to understand. No child ever grows up thinking: ‘when I’m older I want to join a tiny weird looking group that limits my personal freedom and shoot people for making funny drawings’.
What drives them to it and how can we prevent it?