The Antidote to Terror

>  In the fairy tale film classic “Princess Bride” Princess Buttercup’s true love Westley, disguised as the dread pirate Roberts, confronts the Princess’s kidnapper, Vizzini, in a classic standoff between Good and Evil.  As a final resolution, Westley proposes that he conceal two cups of wine and lace one of them with the fatal Iocane powder in his possession.  Vizzini must then choose one of the cups and drink from it.  Vizzini, certain that he can outsmart Westley, goes through an elaborate (and mind-numbing!) reasoning process, finally making his choice, certain he has bested his opponent.  Westley then drinks from the remaining cup and, within seconds, Vizzini is dead. 
    It turns out Westley laced both cups with the Iocane. However, he also had the antidote to Iocane hidden in his pocket and, after drinking from the second cup, took it as well. 
    All of this got me to thinking about Islamic terrorism. Seems like a bit of a stretch?  Bear with me for just a moment.
    The confrontation between Westley and Vizzini is symbolic of the age old battle between Good and Evil. If you’re not comfortable with those moral categories…then let’s just say the battle between life and death.
    We are in such a battle today. Radical extremists will stop at nothing to impose their will upon not only their own culture, but Western societies as well. In their rhetoric, and by their actions, they are undoubtedly passionate. 
    And that’s where Westley and Vizzini fit into the analysis.
    The solution to world terror is an antidote to the passion that drives radical, extremist, religious thinking. Thoughts are one thing.  But thoughts fueled by strong emotion, passion, have a whole other level of effectiveness. Just look at the difference between artists and great artists. While the personal lives of the world’s great artists may have been troubled and wrought with conflict, it was precisely such passionate energy that, when channeled into a creative outcome, produced success and greatness.
Back to the fairy tale. Vizzini wanted to hold the Princess captive for his own power. Westley wanted to free her for true love.  Both men were motivated by intense passion. It appears, in the end, love trumps ego.
    We in the West are appalled and repulsed by the intent and tactics of radical Islamists and other terrorist organizations. We talk about it constantly on radio, tv and the internet and we write about it as frequently…hoping it will go away or that we will be victorious by either military or diplomatic means. Not so.
    What Westley shows us is both the path and the ingredients necessary for victory: face our opponents, proceed from love (remembering there are only two emotions: love and fear) and above all proceed with passion towards that which we want to accomplish.
    We will succeed in eliminating radical Islam only if we apply the antidote to irrational and passionate hatred. That antidote is rational and passionate love. Both our words and our behavior must passionately support life as surely as theirs support death. 
    Like Westley, the antidote is in our pocket.

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