Alisha Thomas C.

Sturm English 102 February 20,2009 The Essence of obedience The fidelity of ones faith becomes the premise to justify the changing of ones conscience. In many cases people act rationally in pursuit of the “benefits” they pursue from being part of a religious group. There is a term coined for this type of thought process, “parochial altruism”-they combine a parochial act (the attacker killing members from other groups) with altruism (the attacker sacrificing themselves for the group).

According to Dr.Stevens , “being part of an exclusive group with very strict beliefs requires intense commitment, and engenders a deep belief in shared experience and self-sacrifice”. For example The Jonestown Massacre had produced a mass suicide. People who believed Rev. Jones was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ followed him and beliefs in having reward of eternal life therefore, they were able to justify there actions and clear any doubts in their conscience to obtain the greater award. Just as soldiers can go to battle to fight and kill for their country, Terrorists can engage in violence to promote a cause.

To be sure, soldiers must be trained to overcome their self-consciousness to kill others but most societies do not see this behavior as being immoral. When soldiers are killed in action their families are rewarded by ceremonies to acknowledge their courage and sacrifice, they may receive medals. Similarly, terrorists can frame their violent deeds as moral acts in the service of their people, country, or God.

In closing, the act of serving your country along with your personal religious beliefs can have great power over changing someone’s moral conscious and actions from a previous state of mind.


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