Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Radical Youth

Many countries are worried that Muslim youth are being radicalized by the preaching of their Mullah’s and social media, to such an extent that they are willing to go and fight and did for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The commentators do not seem to understand how such a thing can happen.

I am intrigued by this, because we have just celebrated the centenary of an event where the young men of New Zealand and Australia volunteered to go and invade Turkey during the First World War. Most of them were country boys, whose dream was to own a farm and make a better life in the new land where their parents had migrated. They had no interest in war, but they were radicalised to the point where they were willing to the other side of world and die in what proved to be a pointless battle.

Several things contributed to the radical change in heart.

  1. Their political leaders claimed that the British Empire needed them.
  2. The military recruiters told them they would have a great adventure and come back home as heroes.
  3. The clergy told them they would be serving God and that by sacrificing their lives, they would be following the example of Jesus.
  4. Their youthful desire for excitement and adventure had an impact as well.
In hindsight, the ideals that persuaded these young of Australia and NZ to fight overseas were all wrong.

The lesson is that young people can always easily be divirted into committing their lives to false causes, then as much as now.

Young people need a vision and a cause to serve. They can do great things, if they are given a cause that will stir their hearts. The only cause that will not disappoint is the gospel of Jesus and the calling to serve the Kingdom of God. This message and challenge must be spoken clear to young people in every age. If they do not catch this vision, they can easily be distracted.

Young people still go to Gallipoli celebrations, because they are looking for a noble cause to be part of. However, they do not have the option of giving their lives in a battlefield in a pointless war in a foreign land. Vicarious heroism and illusion. They need a real cause to commit to.

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