Intent is Key: Jihad, Wars on…, Suicide, Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

For most things in this world intent is key to deciphering meaning. A killing is either murder, accidental or something in between based on intent. Yet, intent can only been known to the doer and then only relatively. Others can only guess at someone else’s intent. How intent colors understandings and changes it is an never-ending struggle. Here are some examples and considerations.

First, the word ‘jihad’ has taken a political meaning although it is seen as a moral issue by most Muslims. Jihad translates as “struggle” and is typically used to denote the struggle each individual has with his or her own internal demons to do the will of God. Christians also have this struggle but don’t have a specific word like Islam. The intent of terrorist is to make the personal “struggle”, i.e., jihad, into a political rather than religious issue. The vast majority (>90%) of Muslims do NOT buy in to this politicization of their personal religious struggle. Thus, the word ‘jihad’ has whole different ramifications if one’s intent is religious versus political. Unfortunately, Western misunderstandings only see ‘jihad’ as a political movement ignoring and usually alienating the vast majority of pious Muslims.

Second, ‘War on….(fill in the blank)’ such as terrorism, drugs, cancer are frequently heard but what are their intents. The War on Terrorism is considered by many as a euphemism for Imperialism and imposition of outside values and this is wrong. Instead, the ‘Wars on …’ are just capitalists’ intents to make boatloads of money. It needs to be understood that more people live off wars than from wars, e.g., more people live off cancer than from cancer. Wars are capitalist enterprises in which some (usually the corrupt) become wealthy or usually, wealthier at the expense of the many. Therefore, it needs to understood that the intents of ‘Wars on …’ are capitalist in nature. Follow-the-money and you will find the ardent supporters of the ‘War on ….’ efforts.

Next is the intent behind suicide. The action in suicide is to take one’s life. In Asian societies, suicide is seen the ultimate protest against a government and that why it is prevented by these governments. Political protests were intended by the Buddhist Monks in Asia who burned themselves publicly in the 70’s.

In the West, suicide is a personal protest against or surrender to ones current perceived intolerable conditions. People commit suicide when accused of wrong-doing even before a trial and all the facts are known. Death is preferred to the ordeal of the forthcoming proceedings. Thus the intent is to spare oneselves suffering.

Those who surrender to their perceived intolerable circumstances by committing suicide also intent to spare themselves continued suffering. It may be seen as selfish but one really rarely knows the full extent of some else’s suffering; therefore, it would be righteous to determine their actions as wrong.

Finally, a simple answer to the frequently stated conundrum “Is the glass half full or half empty?”. The answer is “It depends. Are you trying (intending) to fill it or empty it?” Intent determines meaning.

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