Fear or morality

I recently watched a documentary on the rise of ISIS.

It was shocking. The graphic footage of bloodlust was visceral and brutal.

How can a man place a gun to the back of the head of another bound and helpless in the dirt, and pull the trigger? How could he? He is a human being and I am a human being.

Instant fear.

Not for the prospect of being the victim but for being the perpetrator. There but for the grace of god anyone goes.

Fear that such moral depravity is possible, that we are capable of inflicting such pain on ourselves. For the pain is held by the living not the helpless victim. His is, at least, short-lived.

This horror is not to make people scared. Instead this was domination through callous and morally bankrupt behaviours.

But it was scary to see what a man is capable of doing to a countryman who follows the same religion, just not the right variety.

These killings are Illegal acts under any civilised legal code even those that apply when countries are at war. Killing in cold blood is and always should be criminal however it might be dressed.

And yet what to do about it presents a huge moral challenge.

Standing back and pretending it is only an internal problem condemns the victims and effectively condones the actions. Stepping in with guns blazing did not work the first (or the second) time, so who can say it would this time.

Military aircraft are something of a compromise at least strategically and politically. I am not sure where it leaves our morals for how far from the gun to the back of the head is the red button that releases the air to ground missile?

The most worrying of all was footage of ISIS flags flying atop American tanks and armoured vehicles so brand spanking new they didn’t have a scratch — hardware acquired when the Iraqi army forces were overrun. Now the bloodshed is aided by equipment sold for profit.

No matter how they were acquired, that is moral depravity too.

So next time the media try to frighten you with the prospects of terrorism in your hometown or the government comes across so proud to make a big deal of apprehending a handful of alleged recruits at the airport, have a think.

Just imagine an American tank rolling through a conquered city draped in a black flag.

This is the real deal and I don’t know if we are up to tackling it.

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