Identifying the infidel

The Islamic faith uses the term “infidel.” Who was the Prophet referring to? His original writings were to be applied by the individual to themselves, and as an example to others. What others? The Muslim’s neighbor, by definition, lives nearby. I suggest the Muslim looks inward to find the infidel, and that this is a basic necessity being avoided by all people.

There are dominant faiths in any nation, but Israel’s government is not Jewish, Italy’s is not Catholic, India’s is not Buddhist and Iran’s is not Muslim, despite strong ties between the countries and their dominant religions. Some countries try to enforce a particular religious practice in order to keep up appearances, but ultimately end up losing the original beliefs and faith.

The United States used “manifest destiny” in the 1800s to justify expansion and the genocide they perpetrated. Groups and individuals continue to justify harmful actions, even atrocities, convincing themselves they have a moral right. This behavior is not driven by intelligence — this arrogance is the human ego’s legacy.

Friedrich Nietzsche observed that people’s eyes become dulled to “evil impulses,” allowing them a “feeling of security, of comfort, of benevolence.” The “dull eye” represents ignorance, complacency and apathy. The typical human response is to believe what is easy and avoid difficult or unpleasant situations — few are willing to take a hard look at themselves.

Original religions and ancient wisdoms advocate a peaceful mind and actions intended to promote the welfare of others. It’s not difficult to find the common philosophies at the root of these beliefs. Some of the advice warns that anyone with an agenda above their god and family is at risk. If one loses focus, they will become caught up in self-promoting desires, making the conscious choice against the greater good. I will become the “infidel” — the “unfaithful.”

There is a type of individual worse than an infidel — the one who encourages distractions from principles of peace. They twist and manipulate beliefs with rewrites and interpretations, justifying desires and convincing others to help maintain the deception. Pay attention, and you’ll know who they are.

Sigmund Freud wrote extensively on the ego, self-love and the extremes of narcissism and megalomania. He noted that the illogical human ego must deal with harsh realities. We are neither the center of the universe, privileged nor even in full control of ourselves.

There is no excuse, exception or escape from our human condition. We have two choices (it is that simple) — love of self or of others. Denial of this is a vain attempt to avoid responsibility. Every human makes the same basic choices daily, regardless of nationality or lifestyle. This is the moral equalizer.

Ethics and morality are issues avoided by most people. “Business ethics” has become an oxymoron. Defense attorneys argue against individual accountability. Greed and paranoia (fear) have long been recognized as forces that drive stock markets, governments and entire civilizations — though often to their own collapse. These are sure signs of self-love, or of infidelity.

We know that people’s views of success are rooted in their value system — what they desire most. Our behavior reflects our beliefs and therefore, it is a question of what we are doing, and how it influences those around us.

Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo, used the expression in 1970, “We have met the enemy, and he is us,” to comment on the trashing of nature. It is also well applied to the nature of humanity.

Warren Isleib lives in northeastern United States. He credits 25 years of marriage, grown children and world travel for contributing to his observations.