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These days it seems the world is erupting with violent political conflicts: Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaeda affiliates in France, ISIS affiliates in Belgian, an ISIS wannabe in Washington DC as well as ISIS in Syria and Iraq. All these armed conflicts or would-be conflicts are perpetrated in the name of a religion. But, obviously they are more motivated by their desire for power grab. They want to be empowered in one way or another. For instance, even a suicidal jihadist leaves a video message proclaiming his religious conviction though it seems to me fairly transparent that what he really wanted is his personal “empowerment” as well as what he considered a concrete sign of his existence on earth. As Blaise Pascal said in Pensee, it may be the case that “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

Such a world condition is thought- as well as anxiety-provoking, but certainly it is not debilitating. I try to enjoy life as much as I can. For instance, my husband and I enjoyed playing golf yesterday since we had an unusually crisp and sunny day for the Pacific Northwest in wintertime. It was sunny without clouds. It was not warm but the chilliness was the invigorating kind. As expected there were many other golfers on the golf course, and it promoted sociability. From the golf course we could see the snow-covered mountain and the blue estuary. It was indeed picture perfect. The problematically resentful character, Kashiwagi, in Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (I think this novel illustrates the terroristic mind quite well, by the way) said, “Beautiful scenery is hell, isn’t it?” Though such a paradoxical statement is interestingly thought provoking, in reality I think beautiful scenery is heaven. The serene beauty of the sea, the mountain, and the sun, made me feel calm and even provoked a sense of gratitude for being alive, connected to such a beauty of nature. Since we had other scheduled appointments we could not play the usual 9 holes (we could play 7 holes), but playing golf on a crisp sunny day made us feel happy. I wonder if I am an escapist. Perhaps.