Does morality exist for terrorists?

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Answered by: Thomas, An Expert in the Ethics and Issues of Morality Category

Do terrorists have morals? The morality of terrorists is a regrettable occurrence but it is certainly worthy of closer inspection. A cursory glance at any daily periodical will almost always, unfortunately, contain reference to an act of terrorism somewhere in the world. Those of us reading in the Western Hemisphere are bombarded by oft updates of the activities of ISIS / ISIL - the Islamic State, or some derivative group thereof. They have a mission, they have, although nearly unfathomable to ourselves, values, and most importantly, they are a group able to be guided without a guide, or at least without an earthly one of knowable substance. When a heinous act of terror is committed, be it at the heart of our capital cities, or in the baron wildernesses of a desert you’ve already forgotten the name of, we like to think of ourselves as being morally superior. We have freedom in the west, unrivaled liberty and opportunity. We have got it right. Their very actions announce to all that they are getting wrong, oh so wrong. Except they aren’t. Morality describes and differentiate goodness from evil but only within the context of the culture and society that the act is being judged in. The people and the acts that we judge as pure evil can only ever be evil to us. Terrorists, particularly religious fundamentalists, are almost always acting upon a divine writ that they feel obliged to obey. They have taken their religious or political leaders and texts literally and see no alternate way to act. This informs their entire moral framework and they render it unassailable to criticism or contradictory opinion. The morality of terrorists creates a chilling unease in the majority of people, however, its unfortunate existence should serve as a reminder of opposing values found in all others. These words are not running to the defense of terrorism, quite the opposite. The truth we must accept is the first step in winning the battle against our “evil”. When we understand that the terrorists are entitled to their views and beliefs, even if it threatens our way of life and survival, then we come to place greater meaning and importance on our own societal and cultural values. We cultivate and nourish them. We refine them objectively so that they become more immune to criticism and do not “leak” when held up to more serious scrutiny. For if we do not do this then in particular at our darkest times, we may find the foundations of our moral beliefs so soft that they simply crumble under us. In more pensive moments, further investigation leads to an evaluation of one’s own morals when juxtaposed with those we deem evil. There can be no illusion that one’s morality is, to a certain measure, a reflection of the society one develops their moral fibers in and that they will always remain subjective to the individual. As long as our society upholds the ethical opinion that our actions should never harm another individual and we allow all our moral choices to grow around this then we have set the foundations for eradicating terrorism at least within our own community.

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