Recently, CNN featured this headline story: “What Turns Young Muslims Radical?” as though young Jews, Christians, and Hindus never turn “radical.”
Young men are the strong arm of all righteous (and un-righteous) movements. Just because they do not wait for formal declarations to go into action does not make them “radical.” They may simply see a cause bigger than themselves and feel compelled to be the first to lay their lives on the line.
When Kaiser Wilhelm was over-running Europe during World War I—even before America joined the war—young American men were traveling to Europe to fight the Germans. Before America’s Civil War, young Northerners called “Free-Soilers,” traveled to Kansas to fight (and sometimes kill) those who sought to extend slavery into the new territories.
Throughout history, young men of all faiths and nationalities have turned “radical” at the sight of perceived injustices against other human beings.
I myself as a young African-American, joined the front lines in the struggle against racism in America. My “militancy” crystallized in the late ‘60s when, at the age of 17, I fought in a race riot—up and down the halls of Baldwin High.
Where people care deeply, it is always their young men who rise up and show how much they care. This does not make anybody right or wrong; it only shows that we are all human.