Are We Beginning a War of Good vs Evil?

02/18/2015 04:32 pm ET | Updated Apr 19, 2015

I'm no political analyst, but I wonder if others like me get the feeling a deeper situation is emerging in the Middle East.

Until ISIS came along, I never believed in the concept of evil; just that we all have our dark side, which unfortunately sometimes, because of our thoughts and actions, becomes too much and takes hold of us.

But as we humans reach our highest civilized nature, we are being subjected to a very successful cult in the Mid-East, a cult whose goal is to dominate mankind with its will and beliefs, using terror and fear as its major weapons, ready to put to death any person who does not swear obedience to its beliefs.

The events taking place over there, and the willingness of individuals in the civilized world to join this cult, is leading me to believe we are heading into a war of good vs. evil, whether we like it or not.

If it is a war, I think it's a war that has nothing to do with religion. The enemy is a radical group whose attack on civilization benefited from the long and deep unrest in the Middle East. ISIS represents authoritarianism and the desire to angrily impose its will and beliefs on others, reflecting --individually and collectively-- anger, hostility, intolerance, separatism, and prejudicial fear.

So to me, ISIS is another form of Hitler or Stalin in the making, seeking to impose its will on the world by any means possible, with no concern for human life. They have brought a new ugliness to "the end justifies the means."

ISIS strategy seems to be to declare civilization decadent, thus justifying a return to life as seen through the eyes of Muhammad nearly 1500 years ago, which makes ISIS the true leader of mankind. Of course, only ISIS is qualified to decide what should be salvaged from these last 15 misguided centuries.

I think it insults Muslims to refer to this group as an "Islamic State." The vast majority of over a billion Muslims surely do not approve of ISIS. And accepting the name of the territory ISIS occupies as a "Caliphate" automatically makes it a dominion ruled by a Caliph: "a successor of Muhammad as temporal and spiritual head."

Given the evil this cult has demonstrated, do we want to give them a religious credibility? How do their actions differ from any group of characterless, self-serving thugs?

But a shocking truth is that ISIS's best recruitment effort is emphasizing what the civilized world considers to be evil, like beheading or burning to death captives, even fellow Muslims who won't submit to ISIS beliefs.

Recruits seem attracted not to the cult's claims of religion but rather to the cult's power. The three individuals who created the massacre at Charlie Hebdo in Paris were common criminals apparently acting on their own, trying to bring a grandeur ending to lives they felt had been meaningless. There are similar examples globally.

So how do recruits--some American--coming from a civilized world, ignore the blatant evil practices of this cult? Unfortunately, I'm afraid it goes back to the famous Milgram experiment on obedience that found that most people were willing to give almost fatal electric shocks to subjects when ordered to do so (these people didn't know there actually was no shock and that the subject faked both the shock and pain.)

The experiment suggests--like the German people during the persecution of the Jews--that many of us put our faith in power before we put it in what is right. So those joining the ISIS cult are likely leading lives where they don't feel empowered and thus are attracted to the excitement of the power of the movement, even though they will have to be strictly obedient to an authoritarian leadership.

So I believe the battle is coming down to civilization vs ancient authoritarianism, which ultimately makes it a war between what we in the civilized world consider good vs what we consider evil.

That is a war worth fighting--and winning decisively.