One of the big questions that goes unanswered in the minds of many people is: Why do Western youths (North Americans, Europeans, Australians) decide to join the jihad (Islam's holy war), and why are they willing to die or kill infidels for it?
The images of the North American journalist with his executioner, who in a perfect British accent explains the decision to decapitate him as a reprisal of the actions of Obama and the West's participation against the creation of the Islamic State and the resurgence of a caliphate, stay with us, and the question is: Why?
According to North American writer and philosopher Michael Ledeen, the answer is simple: "Because it gives meaning to life." Ledeen explains how "European intellectuals bemoaned the great triumph of science and industry, which they portrayed as relentlessly stifling the human soul, burying us under a hill of material things." This has led to many young people rejecting materialism; while some have tried to find an answer in Far Eastern mysticism, others see themselves as part of a war that is at once spiritual, political and social. According to Ledeen, we live in a new construction of fascism, one we have named Islamofascism. He reminds us of the history of fascism under Mussolini to explain how this type of phenomenon manifests in different forms; one spiritual, one political, and always with the added element of war. "All fascism, whatever version of social or political organization it advocates, insists that war is the true measure of human virtue. A person’s valor and courage are measured by his performance in combat."
Another reason is that many of these young people are the children of immigrants that have been discriminated against and have developed an aversion to the Western world, one which has, in many cases, marginalized them to lives of poverty. There are many sons of Somali immigrants in Minnesota, Syrians in Paris, or Iraqis in London who disappear and write to their parents from a battlefield, explaining that they've decided to join the Islamic State group. One way of recruiting poor Muslims is to offer economic security to their families once they have died, be it in combat or acts of suicide terrorism. There's also the 72 virgins waiting in rivers of honey and dates for those who die in the holy war. But for the Western world, the invitations are through email and videos that say things like, "The cure for the depression is the jihad ... Feel the honor that we are feeling. Feel the happiness that we are feeling."
A very tempting offer for those who live their lives in a spiritual void, full only of things.