Why do some people sacrifice everything for their sake?
The human being has always been moved by a series of ideas and creeds that justify his way of being and living. From religious dogmas, generational habits or ideology , almost always we have lived according to a series of ideas that we rarely question. However, there are cases in which these beliefs and "thought routes" come to root so strongly in our convictions that we end up sacrificing everything for them ... and even wanting to sacrifice the rest for them. It is a blind faith.
Centuries ago, the divine revelations delegated to the rulers were those that conditioned our societies, cultural values and the way in which we related to others. On the other hand, it could be said that at present, what drives the global world are the ideologies to which we have access, in large part, thanks to globalization.
If before to obey someone it was not necessary for the vassal to believe fervently in what he was doing, today, beyond the cases of kidnapping, the most extreme actions must be committed by people who believe fervently in the causes for which he sacrifices everything. . Therefore, something similar to a "war of ideas" has been unleashed. The case of terrorism promoted by the fanaticism of ISIS is an example What leads these people to act like this?
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What do we mean by sacrifice for a cause?
The word sacrifice has a trap. The context, values and semantic perception of the offering will seek a different degree of intensity among the collectives. For example, sacrificing for the expansion of Islamism does not mean the same for an illiterate farmer in Iraq as for a youngster who was born since childhood in Spain.
However, more generally, the sacrifice supposes the privation of the well-being of each individual for a determined reason , whether religious or ideological, survival or reward.
Now, what gives rise to sacrifices are convictions, something that is currently very much influenced by the war of ideas.
The ideological War
It was around 1947 that the term "ideological war" began to be used. An armed conflict had ended to enter a new one. The two victorious world powers of the war, the Soviet Union and the United States of America, saw a military confrontation as incompatible as the convergence of their social-political ideas. Each block wanted to impose its area of influence on the territory it dominated.
These facts supposed the beginning of a new trend and way to control people , to establish some rules of the game that had little to do with violence, to this day. Regional conflicts have supplanted global ones, domestic wars are increasingly present all over the world and there is a current of neoconservatism that rescues the most primitive behaviors of man: struggle and sacrifice.
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What leads people to sacrifice everything?
How can there be people willing to sacrifice their lives, or even that of their children for a cause? What motivation do people willing to die for fighting against an enemy have? An interesting study carried out by a group of English psychologists from Artis International in areas of armed conflict such as Iraq, Syria or Libya, reveal at least surprising data.
This study was conducted "at the foot of the cannon", in the front line, asking combatants of all the factions involved: the Islamic State (ISIS, Daesh), the Kurdish Democratic Forces, the Iraqi Army and Sunni militias, among others. In all cases the same common denominator is fulfilled: the commitment to the cause or idea that is defended, which for some is sacred even without being of a theological nature: that is, something that goes beyond the material.
Traditionally, in the groups or organizations (governments, pressure groups) with desires of armed conflict, the cause resided purely in the material, in the economic and political power, to control the means of production or the territories of character and commercial interest. However, in the modern era fanatical insurgent minority groups have contributed to greater participation in the political sphere and the world of ideologies.
That is, the cause is no longer material, wealth or power. It is rather a claiming motive, an idea that is sacred for these groups with little combat capacity or military equipment.In addition, these causes are usually non-negotiable, a fact that gives them some power to balance forces with, in most cases, the government they face. Recall that the State is the only one that shows legitimate violence (or, at least, legitimized by civilians).
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The emotional replaces the material
Based on the interviews and experiences lived in hostile territory, the researchers who conducted the study highlight the idea of the "sacred" as a casuistic element of their struggle. "The Kurdish" as territorial, historical and cultural claim of the Kurdish people in Arab territory. "The Arab" as an idea to recover independence and culture in the face of the loss of state institutions derived from the Second Gulf War of 2003, which led to the illegal invasion by the United States. Finally we find "Islam" as idea to refound a caliphate that existed in periods after Muhammad .
The concept takes on the value of "sacred" when the combatant or affected party assures that no material amount (be it in property, land or fiduciary money) can compensate the cause of their struggle. Take for example democracy for the West, which can not be waived under any circumstances. Nothing and no one is in a position to negotiate denial of voting in the States of Law.
In addition to on-site research in conflict zones, Artis International also conducted online surveys of civilians who had suffered terrorist attacks, as well as soldiers regular based in Europe. In the first group, non-combatants assert that their families and friendships are above any political-religious creed, even if they are willing to make sacrifices if these values are affected.
In the case of the second group, the soldiers of different armies, point to a relationship between their superiors or leaders over the cause for which they are willing to fight. That is to say, added value is given to the comrade who follow , not so much to the ideas themselves. Those loyal to Gaddafi, for example, were willing to "lay down their lives for him." However, this may be because the person is the best way to conceive an ideal, while rarely thinking about what is being fought in abstract terms.
Looking for a meaning to the discomfort
It is very possible that people who fall into extreme fanaticism do so, in part, to avoid having to assume the idea that their suffering is in vain.
When the region where you live is constantly mistreated, it is very easy to invent motivations that lead you to think about something bigger than yourself: for example, you can think that what is being attacked is not your own wellbeing, but an essence which is everywhere: Western culture, God, etc. Knowing how to discriminate between reality and essences is key so as not to fall into these traps.