Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ultimately, Motive Doesn't Matter

What I really wanted to say in the title is that motive only matters to those who need some closure.why someone commits acts of attrocity.  I suppose that it has to do with our insatiable need to know the meaning of everything.  I even found myself wondering why the Tsarnaev brothers did what they did, and it was my hope that they be captured alive that we might know their motives.
  Humans, for some reason, always want to know

But the motive only matters in a limited sense.  As I see it, there are three distinct reasons to why we are so insistent on discovering a motive.

First, and foremost, is the feeling in those who were directly affected by the incident.  Their lives have changed abruptly, violently, and they want to know why someone would do something like this.  It's a comfort thing, but not "comfort" in the sense that it brings any inner peace.  The acts of violence that seem to sting the most are the ones that we characterize as "senseless."

When a man kills another human being for the sheer thrill of ending a life, we call that senseless, and it gives us an uneasy feeling.  No one wants to think that death at the hands of a psychopath can be just around the corner, and what's more, we want our loved ones to have died for some purpose.  We don't want to feel as though they were merely meatbags to slaughter for the pleasure of some psychopath.  So knowing that their death was brought on by some sort of external motive gives meaning to the tragedy.

The second reason is for people like me: sheer curiosity.  I have an obsession, of sorts, with understanding human action.  I want to know why simply because I want to understand why he did it.  My blogger friend, Freethinke, hinted at this the other day.  We need to be empathetic if we are to understand the person's motives.  For me, even if these men did this for sheer pleasure, discovering that and pondering the implications of it is fascinating to me.  For me, even "senseless," violence is meaningful because it still says something about humanity.

I just want to know.

And then there's that third feeling: blame.  Many people want to know because--perhaps subconsciously--they need someone to blame.  They need someone or something to blame because that makes their world feel more manageable.  "This could have been prevented if only . . ."--and you can imagine the myriad of words that fill in the blank.

"Deport all foreign born Muslims," they cry.  "It's Islam!  That's the problem," they assert.  For some odd reason, we often try to place the blame on people and institutions other than the perpetrators themselves.  If only Islam didn't exist, this would have never happened!  Well guess what: it doesn't matter.

Why?  Because it takes focus off of the fact that ultimately, the Tsarnaev brothers made the choice.  No idea, no set of beliefs, can actually force a person to do something against their will.  And there is the key: against their will.  These men willed these actions to transpire.  Sure, we can sit back and say that it's all Islam's fault because it somehow bended their will to violence, but anyone with a brain would know that's not true.

Consider this: there are currently 1.6 billion (with a "B") Muslims in the world.  Of those 1.6 billion, less than .0000000000001% of them choose to do violence against others in the name of Allah.  So if Islam is so evil, and if it apparently turns its adherents into violent assholes, then why is it that there are billions of Muslims out there who have never committed and will never commit violence against others in the name of God?

The answer is simple.  The blame lies in those who commit violence.  It doesn't really matter what their motives are, because motive is only incidental.  The motive only gives the killers that little extra push to do what they were already mentally prepared to do.

Studies showed that of the American men who served in combat situations during WWII, only 20% of them actually fired their weapon with the intent to kill.  About 80% of the participants in the study said that when they fired, they hoped that they didn't kill anyone--many of them missing on purpose.  Even men with the conviction of righteousness--and of all the wars ever fought, few have a more just cause than that of the Allies in WWII--most men still cannot bring themselves to take a life.

You either have it in you, or you don't.  To murder someone, even if you feel it's justified, will harm the psyche of a normal human being.  If you can take a life and feel okay with it, then the motive is arbitrary.  The Tsarnaev brothers were killers, and their motives simply gave them outlet for their bloodlust and justification so that they could sleep at night.

So as you hopefully see, it doesn't really matter why they did it.


Jersey McJones said...

Well, we also need to know why in order to discover possible connections to broader malice, in order to avert recurrence.


Anonymous said...

There is no wisdom more infinite than that of the self-styled sage, is there?

_____ Wagmore Barkless _____

Anonymous said...

I commend your optimism Jersey.

I feel that any information that would be gleaned from this, you probably aren't really gonna want coming from the grunt. Better than nothing, sure... worthwhile? Can't say.

If they would have caught the Lieutenant, would have been a much more convincing argument for me. If the stories are true, this guy more or less ran over his own brother to escape.

Something tells me this guy probably won't live long enough to go through trial, and if he does it will be out of sheer 24/7 vigilance making sure he isn't waxed or he doesn't off himself.

"Do you realize, Tom, that whatever I do is inevitable?"

Assuming this isn't all a major false flag circus attraction leading us down the path of banning gunpowder for ammo reloading or whatever asinine agenda it's batting for, then yes, I am glad he was taken alive.

Silverfiddle said...

"No idea, no set of beliefs, can actually force a person to do something against their will."

While this is true and I agree with it, we cannot discount the inspirational power of belief and ideology.

So while we must put the blame where it belongs, with the perpetrators, it is useful to examine what motivated them.

Silverfiddle said...

And for another take on the math of it all, see Finn's post today at Western Hero

The numbers, as are all numbers involving violence, are infinitesimal. The more useful analysis compare one group against another.

FreeThinke said...

Hi, Jack

Has all this been a roundabout way of saying RESULTS ARE ALL THAT COUNT?

If so I would tend to agree, but at the same time the moral and intellectual quality of our motives tends to color and even define the value of our output.

But then, as I never tire of saying, Existence, itself, is a paradox, so just about everything we do and everything we would like to do is something of a two-edged sword.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is always at work, and no human being has ever been completely able to outwit it. Unfortunately, there is a down side to everything.

And so, as my beloved high school English teacher would say with a quizzical look on his face when we studied Hamlet, "You too must suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

Jack Camwell said...

No, this is not me saying results are all that matter. I'm not utilitarian.

I advocate for understanding the motives and for seeking out the motive, but only for the purpose of knowledge.

When it comes to laying blame, however, I posit that motive has nothing to do with the blame. We can't blame radical Islam for what these men did, because ultimately it was their choice.

Sure, we can sit back and say "well this influenced them and pushed them to do it," but proportionally, radical Islam influences more people who DON'T murder than those that do.

My whole point is that you're either a killer or you're not. If deep down inside you have the stomach to murder, then motive is purely incidental. It is just a reason they found to justify what they already wanted and/or had the proclivity to do.

Ducky's here said...

In the end th pathology of these two is much closer to Adam Lanza than bin Laden.

We simply live in a culture where these acts are becoming commonplace and we have no good idea how to stop them.

Always On Watch said...

As far as I'm concerned, prevention of more such attacks should be the primary reason for understanding why.

Does commonplace (Duck's word) mean that we should just accept such attacks as the inevitable reality?

I think that we need to ask ourselves why such atrocities were not commonplace a few decades ago.

Always On Watch said...

I strongly disagree with Duck's statement: In the end th pathology of these two is much closer to Adam Lanza than bin Laden!

Adam Lanza had a history of mental issues and social isolation, perhaps compounded by an obsession with violent video games; as far as we now know, the Tsarnaev brothers did not.

Always On Watch said...

There is also an international element involved in the jihad attack on the Boston Marathon -- another difference from what Adam Lanza did.

Jack Camwell said...

Thanks for visiting AOW =)

I don't think that Ducky was implying that we should just throw our hands up, but rather that we are at a place right now where we legitimately have no clue on how to stop the madness.

I wouldn't say that today is different than any other period in history, though.

The point that I'm trying to make, and which Ducky seems to agree with on some level, is that it really doesn't matter that they were radical Muslims. The now living Tsarnaev brother *ran over* his older brother in order to escape the police. There's something wrong with someone who is willing to do that.

The issue we face with events such as these is that we tend to focus on the message of the terrorists rather than the terrorists themselves. Of course, that's what they want us to do.

How do we stop radical, militant Islam? We can't. We can't put an end to radical Islam anymore than we can put an end to the brand of Christianity that motivates the Westboro Baptists. We can't put an end to an idea.

We can do our best, but truth be told, there's really little we CAN do to stop these sort of things from happening. Again, I'm not suggesting that we just abandon all hope and efforts to prevent such violence, but we need to be honest with ourselves about it.

Always On Watch said...

We can't stop radical Islam. What we can do is not cater to radical Islam and reinforce the perception that we are caving into the will of Allah.

For example, consideration for Major Hasan's religious views -- to the point that the trial was delayed over and over again because his religion would not allow him to shave off his "jihad" beard -- made our rule of civil law appear to bow to Islamic supremacism. The symbolism of our court's being weak isn't lost on Muslims, particularly those who are searching for the elusive will of Allah so that they know which "brand" of Islam to support.

The perception of dhimmitude may actually be leading to more Muslims becoming jihadists.

Muslims as a whole seem to be ever searching for the elusive and fickle will of Allah -- or so I've been told by Muslims. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 has had a profound effect on Muslims with regard to their methodology and scope of their submission to the will of Allah.

Another thing we can do....Stop importing Wahhabist imams. Prior to mosques in the United States being staffed with so many Wahhabists, we didn't have much trouble, did we?

One more thing we can do....Stop the whitewash of Islam in our school system. Present Islam and the history with warts and all. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, every religion and culture -- all should be presented accurately. Don't glorify any of the -isms. Don't glorify and obfuscate historical facts.

Even in a Christian homeschool group with which I'm involved, I point out the faults of Christianity. Not the doctrines per se, but the practices and the flaws of the practitioners and the groups. Case in point: Puritanism.

Jack Camwell said...

Our law doesn't bow to any religion--but what it does do is attempt to ensure that even the worst criminals are afforded some humanity, even if they didn't afford it to their victims.

Is it really necessary to shave his beard? They can pretend all they want that our courts are weak. Hasan will never again see the light of day as a free man.

What I find irksome is the fact that in the past 12ish years, we've had 3 major tragedies on US soil perpetrated in the name of Allah. During that time, we've had *countless* other tragedies pereptrated by non-Muslims.

What are we going to do about all of the non-Muslim white men who are killing people in droves? If radical Islam is such a problem here in the states, why aren't there more American Muslims lashing out and jihading?

As for the "whitewash," I'm not sure what you're talking about there. I've got some experience with history curriculums in Ohio, and for the most part they teach the facts.

If you truly taught the truth about Christianity, and all of the rape, torture, and bloodshed that was done in the name of God, it would be a wonder if any of those kids would still consider themselves Christians.

I will pose to you the same question I posed to FT:

If Islam is the problem, then why are there 1.4 billion Muslims in the world who choose to live peaceful lives? FT said that there are approximately 250 million people who buy into radical Islam--and in reality, only a small percentage of them actually choose to do violence against the innocent.

Always On Watch said...

Major Hasan's beard is contrary to the military code. He knows that, yet he tried to insist on wearing the beard to court -- as a symbol, I think.

I was speaking of textbooks and the units on Islam. Recent textbooks that I've seen don't talk about the jihad in India and other jihad atrocities, but do tell about the atrocities that the Catholic church committed. Also, the Islam unit was much longer in these books and included activities designed to help students "understand" jihadists.

On occasion, some schools have invited in Islamic leaders and had classes recite the shahadda, the profession of faith in Islam. Would these same schools invite in Christian leaders and have the students recite the Apostles' Creed? I think not -- nor should that any reciting of faiths be happening in a secular classroom.

Some schools have students dress in traditional Muslim garb to experience "Muslimness." Do those schools have the students dress and nuns or the Amish? No. Outward dress can be an expression of faith, and expressions of faith are supposed to be forbidden in a public school.

HERE is one link about the whitewash of Islam in textbooks. HERE is another.

If Islam is the problem, then why are there 1.4 billion Muslims in the world who choose to live peaceful lives?

The key word is "choose." Also, the Catholic Church holds that contraception is against the tenets of the church. Every Catholic whom I'm personally know uses birth control. In the same way, I think, most Muslims choose not to follow all the tenets of Islam.

If you truly taught the truth about Christianity, and all of the rape, torture, and bloodshed that was done in the name of God, it would be a wonder if any of those kids would still consider themselves Christians.

I point to the words of Jesus and ask the students, "Are those atrocities in keeping with our Lord's teachings?" The same applies when I teach The Scarlet Letter.

Always On Watch said...

BTW, if you Google search "islam whitewash textbooks" without the quotation marks, you can pull up pages of information. You might want to examine some of the material, which is subtle in tone and often requires that one contrast the statements about Islam with statements about other religions.

I have done textbook reviews for the public school system, BTW. One curricular specialist for the county actually resigned because she couldn't live with some of the statements in the textbooks published a few years after 9/11. She felt that there was a bias in favor of Islam in too many of the books -- all the way down to the 5th grade level.

Always On Watch said...

I just stumbled across THIS, information new to me. Possibly of interest.

Jack Camwell said...

Well, you're obviously better read on that subject than I am =)

However, I can see the need for the white washing. Now, of course in matters of principle, whitewashing is never okay. But rarely do we ever get to operate solely on principle.

The whitewashing occurs because it's plain to see that most Americans are morons who will generalize on anything they can. Perhaps you feel differently, but I don't want my children growing up to hate Muslims.

Just as the attrocities committed by Christians in the name of God do not equate to Christianity being evil, neither does the actions of .15% of Muslims equate to Islam as a whole being evil.

This is a tough subject for me to engage in, because I can't help but feel that most people who slam Islam are generally very Christian, and they already have a preconceived bias towards it.

Not all, of course, but consider this. Would pointing out all of the faults and attrocities committed by Christians be an accurate representation of the faith? If textbooks ONLY talked about the attrocities, how do you think that would affect a non-Christian's view of the fait?

Would that the American people were smart enough to not require white washing, that way we wouldn't have to be so big-brotherish about it.

Always On Watch said...

Just as the attrocities committed by Christians in the name of God do not equate to Christianity being evil, neither does the actions of .15% of Muslims equate to Islam as a whole being evil.

Is Islam evil? The answer to that question is another question: What do the Koran and the Haditha teach, particularly about the path to salvation and the treatment of non-Muslims?

I do not advocate the promotion of hatred of Muslims. But I DO advocate accuracy (age and grade appropriate when it comes to what goes on in the classroom).

If textbooks are relating the atrocities committed in the name of the God of Christianity, not telling about atrocities committed in the name of Allah -- and the history of Islam, particularly the spread by conquest instead of conversion -- is biased. Perhaps the lack of accuracy and lack of balance help to explain, in part, why so many Westerners are converting to Islam.

I can't help but feel that most people who slam Islam are generally very Christian, and they already have a preconceived bias towards it.

Well, yes, in a theological sense. As a Christian, I believe that Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., are pagan religions. I use the words of Jesus to substantiate that statement. My making these statements does not mean that I have any desire to persecute Muslims.

The freedom of practice one's personal faith is guaranteed by the Constitution; going out and killing "the other" and giving tax money to any one religious institution are clearly not part of our Constitution. Giving one faith government sanction is also not part of our Constitution.

A little personal information here....I am a Spanish major and specialized in the medieval literature of Spain. The Golden Age of Islam in Spain wasn't all golden -- on the part of both Christians and Muslims. Yet, most people really do believe that the Golden Age of Islam in Spain was all sweetness and light on the part of Muslims.

If you are so inclined, you might want to read THIS, written by a Bosnian whose family is Muslim. Mr. Fawstin grew up as a nominal Muslim, I think. In any case, he shares a view "from the inside."