Anders Behring Breivik is a name that the world won’t forget in a hurry, even though it may be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Breivik who rationalized his killing spree through a 1500-page manifesto in which he spoke of how the vote-seeking politicians were instrumental in the spread of multiculturalism in Europe, doesn’t comes across as a brain-washed fanatic, the kind we’ve learned to associate with the acts of terrorism. Yet he killed about 90 young Norweigians. Why?
Though I don’t know the answer to this question, and I believe that nobody really does – except of course, Breivik; but if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that it lies in the fact that now-a-days societal changes are happening too fast.
If we glance back at the history of the world, such changes were slow. If we specifically look at the Indian example, the spread of Islam happened over a period of 500 years, and by the time the British arrived in India, Islam had ceased to be a foreign religion and their culture had already meshed with the Hindu culture, initially through force, then through inter-religion-marriages leading to ethnic mixing, and then through the political moves of the Mughal rulers. So by the 18th century, the Muslims along with the Hindus began calling India their home. Thus, when the British arrived, they were the outsiders, while the Hindus and the Muslims were the insiders – regardless of their own differences.
500 years is a long time to accept another culture, and even become amenable to its ills. When your mindset changes over a dozen or more generations, you don’t even feel it.
You can possibly surmise the reasons why the assimilation took so long. The reasons were simple: Low population, no technology, and of course, the kings, who didn’t have to establish the vote-banks.
Now we experience whirlwind changes. Take the example of the unrest in Middle-East. It spread so quickly, because it was aided by technology. The case of islamization of Europe is similar. It’s happening too quickly for people to adapt. It isn’t easy for a culture to give up its values in a matter of decades. It requires centuries.
- with technology, people don’t have to walk on foot for years to reach another country;
- with greedy politicians who are looking for votes, people don’t have to learn another language nor customs to become part of the host-country’s society; and
- with the world not wanting to take stronger, collective measures against fundamentalism, people don’t have to give up being fanatics!
So the kids growing up in these host countries feel that they are being treated as step-children by their own country – and because the leaders of these countries are busy looking at their vote-banks, one of these kids begins to think that if the society is ready to condone the terrorist acts done by one or more members of these “pampered” communities, they too have the right to do the same, and save their own culture from losing its identity.
I think that we are looking at just the tip of the iceberg. We shouldn’t think that in a population of 6.7 Billion, there won’t be another such misguided soul. I also think that the only way to prevent more incidents of this kind could be to review all religions and communities and weed out the irrationalities from them. The question is – who’d bell the cat? It has to a collective effort from the political and religious leaders of the world, who will have to throw away their personal axes and write a new world order, with common goals and methods, and with a structure that is rational not fanatical.
We cannot accept intolerance as a given for one group of people and close our eyes to it, and treat it as an exception in another. Intolerance begets intolerance. It’s contagious too. It won’t disappear from the world, unless it’s weeded out from everywhere.