"Revolution in their minds, the children start to march, against the world in which they have to live, and all the hate that's in their hearts"
The latest boogey-men conjured up by the powers that be are a somewhat rag-tag band of misfits, who have a penchant for putting distance between heads and shoulders. ISIS, and their various farm teams, are a symptom of a much larger problem in the Middle East. That problem seems to be pent up adrenaline and testosterone, with no productive endeavours available to sop it up.
Now, the Middle East is a hot, dusty and dangerous place, and I have been closer to it than I care to remain. Its history is both blood and oil soaked, with an unhealthy dash of religious fervour. Many scholars and intellectuals have wrung their hands over, and apologized for countless acts of terror and mayhem. None, in this corn-fed white boy's opinion, have reached the root of the problem.
There are too many men, women wearing curtains on their faces, too few jobs, and beatings to encourage memorizing of the Koran. It really should be no surprise that the Middle East's main export besides crude is violent acts of terrorism, both domestic and international. Are we in the West responsible for stirring the pot and drawing literal lines in the sand? Quite likely, but that cluster-fuck of a know is so firmly tangled not even Alexander the Great himself could slash it free.
No, if we are going to diffuse the powder keg over there before somebody gets their mitts on a nuke, we had better find a useful outlet for all that high grade emotion and energy.
Sports, and particularly youth sports as we know them, serve as a sort of proxy for war. Us vs Them, choose sides and a jersey, fight til the death and shake hands when the dust settles. Many coaches act like they are drill sergeants and the youths they control are the soldiers being prepped for and sent into battle. Or at least a hotly contested pseudo-battle, regardless of the playing field.
Now, the Taliban banned soccer matches in Afghanistan and that closed off one outlet for all that pent up aggression. Perhaps they should have started intramurals instead. Let them have sports. Yes, I know, virtually all nations in the Middle East have national football/soccer teams, but there is something about having your team's feet lashed after a loss that takes all the fun and pride out of it. Instead of having legions of would-be martyrs idolizing their favourite suicide bombers, let them instead idolize the False Gods of Sport.
Sports of all kinds, from rugby to wrestling, lacrosse to athletics, should be implemented so the youth of the Middle East have a way to burn off all that energy. Instead of dropping carpet-bombs, drop soccer balls and copies of Sports Illustrated. They can practice corner kicks instead of Kalashnikovs. Encourage MMA, roller hockey, baseball and beach volleyball. Tap all that pressure with the valve of sport, rather than religion and hate. I have a feeling they'd love it. You give a 10 yr old over there a chance to be an athlete instead of a Reaper drone target and I bet they'd jump at the chance. Got to get 'em young enough though, before all that imam-speak takes a hold. Girls too, let them play, rough even. Heck, I bet some of them are pretty decent too.
Believe me brothers and sisters, I've seen my share of abandoned churches and schools, built by Western do-gooders, but seldom does a soccer pitch stay empty if there enough people around to have a game. Let them play and let them play hard. A happy tired kid having some orange slices after practice is not going to be easily convinced to kill someone. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather have them worship Messi and Ronaldo rather than martyrs and freedom fighters.
ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Mujahideen, the differences are lost on most of us Westerners, but one thing is deathly clear. There is an abundance of energy and anger that is constantly funnelled into less than constructive extra-curriculars. No, you're not going to get lasting peace in the Middle East anytime soon, but sports always has been, and always will be, a healthy way to release some pent up aggression. We'll worry about the hooliganism and rioting later, shall we?