Mirror of Confusion
Or, the bigot meets the fanatic.
If, as I do, you occasionally hang out at some of the message boards on the internet where people offer commentary or opinion on current events, you may come away resigned to the belief that humanity is a lost cause and that there is no hope for it. A “sickness unto death”, to crib a phrase from Kierkegaard. It’s actually frightening to know that some people have the vote and that they use it to ill-effect.
So, lately I have followed what people are thinking (if that’s what it is) our collective response should be to, amongst other things, ISIS or just IS — the Islamic State — as being yet another emergent, developing crisis on the darkening horizons of the Modern Era, in a time in which crises now spawn like rabbits and Universal Unreason seems to be developing into the norm.
Bigotry meets fanaticism in the Mirror of Confusion, and there really isn’t anything to distinguish the one from the other in reality. Both are symptoms of the general breakdown of reason. I can’t think of any better way to describe our situation than as “the Mirror of Confusion” (as “the Unexpected Citizen” did). The bigot and the fanatic confront each other as reciprocating images and echos of each other, united in their mutual ill-will and desire to annihilate each other in their self-righteousness, yet think of each other as opposites. In truth, nothing really distinguishes the bigot from the fanatic. They are the negative, empty images of each other. “Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum decided to have a battle”.
It is indeed a frightful thing when the bigot and the fanatic gain the upper hand. “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity“. One cannot defeat enmity with enmity, malice with malice. That is not the real struggle. The real struggle is often carried on outside the headlines of the daily news, and it is the truth that, so far at least, many people of mutual, unassuming and sincere goodwill are keeping the pernicious influence of the bigots and the fanatics in check as a counter-balance to the more nihilistic and destructive tendencies of the age.
And it is the impressive resilience of this goodwill that is, so far, keeping the global era from disintegrating completely into competing partisan ideologies, exclusive nationalisms, or religious sectarianism.