So you want to heal the world. To bring justice to people. You've looked around and seen the pitiful state of humanity and took it upon yourself to save us.
You have researched your subject for years, meticulously copy-pasted a grand manifesto until all the pieces finally fit. The world as it is, reality as it is, shimmers before your eyes like the aurora borealis twinkles on the plows you have at your farm.
You're ready to set out, a Templar Knight, standard-bearer of our civilization.
Or maybe you're not a farmer in Norway at all. Maybe you're a freedom fighter in the Middle East. You want to fight for liberation of your land from the occupiers. In that case, skip the aurora borealis part. Skip writing your own manifesto as well. Instead, you're serving a cause that was awaiting you when you were born. You have grown into a mission that was defined by your leaders and spiritual advisors as the one and only truth you must accept.
Now this Truth, whether you're in Norway or in Palestine, calls for you to kill.
If you're a human, you will have an instinct that warns you otherwise. But it can be silenced. Your leaders will silence it for you. Your manifesto will strengthen you to silence it. It will tell you that killing for the greater good is okay. And you have the greater good. You have Truth on your side, you have it all worked out, it is all justified.
You may be wondering why the rest of us don't go on a killing rampage. You suspect that we're pussies, all talk and no action. Or rather, we're simply too blind to see the truth that you have come to discover. You're aware that we believe in other truths, but those truths are lies, whereas your truth is the Truth. And why? Because it's yours. Because it's in your mind.
You're convinced that whatever you have formulated in your mind as a belief has got to be true. If it weren't true, you wouldn't believe it, right?
You believe it because it's true, and it's true because you believe it.
So now you need to kill some people for the sake of this truth.
The absurdity of the circular reasoning will make you wonder though, if you consider yourself a smart person. And you must be smart, after all you claim to be able to recognize truth.
Let's examine what makes you believe the things you believe in the first place. It's probably the feeling that it all adds up. It feels right. You watch the world and try to make sense of it, and piece by piece you create a view that seems like a good explanation of the experiences you have.
Nonetheless, it's still an explanation. Not the events in their raw reality, but the way you interpret them. Not the world in its complexity, but the facts you have cherry-picked and thought important enough to include in your theory.
Your theory then, by definition, is incomplete. Therefore it's not perfect. Still you have come to the conclusion that people must be killed based on this imperfect narrative.
It's not imperfect because you're dumb or anything, you understand. It's imperfect because it can't be otherwise. Because men are not cut out to digest the world as is. We use filters, and we have biases, and sometimes we even make mistakes. And our leaders and spiritual mentors are imperfect humans as well, in their interpretation of the ultimate Truth.
Imagine that you have a leader who explicitly tells you that his vision must be taken with a grain of salt. Imagine that you yourself doubt the very ideas you have developed. Wouldn't that make a difference? When you're aware that what you fight for is not the absolute truth, when you know there will be mistakes and perhaps sins to reckon with as you go along, then you have the option to decide whether your goal can accommodate those mistakes. Only if you question your own justice can you assess whether the outcome you bring about with a bloodshed is still the good cause you thought it to be. But if you pose as Justiciary Knight setting the world straight, you deprive yourself of the chance of self-correction. When you blindly follow leaders who don't voice their doubts, you're exchanging reason and argument for fanaticism.
Now you will carry out a carnage at a youth camp, or somewhere in Occupied Palestine, and stand a good chance of being killed by law enforcement or by your suicide bomb, and you will be finished before you have fixed the shortcomings of your theory. People will download your manifesto from the internet and giggle: "Hey, look at that Breivik guy, what silly errors he makes in his argumentation." Ambulance will scrap your bloody remnants from the sidewalk and shake their heads knowing that you died for a fragmentary notion you took to be the truth. What a shame. What a waste of your intellectual skills. When instead you could have worked to discover the fallacies and mistakes that are inevitably there in your beliefs. You could have warned your comrades about them, and together you could have created the country that is based on more than a lopsided conception ordering its citizens to kill and become shahids.
So go create that Knights Templar as a forum to discuss and perfect your ideas. Be an activist in the Palestinian Liberation Front or in the Liberation Front of Palestine. Listen to your leaders or to the voices in your head if you must. Just remember to stop and think before you pull the trigger on those 16-year-olds, or blast yourself in the middle of a busy street: it's only a narrative. It's only one version of reality in the spectrum of possible explanations. Is it really worth becoming a murderer for?
Balázs Benkő is a philologist, a political and legal communications advisor, and a businessman. Zita Rainer is a social media marketing strategist.