Look at what happened on 9/11. There were 19 hijackers that were absolutely sure they were getting into heaven--to get their virgins and everything else that they were promised. Now, did they value their life?When mindreading the 19 hijackers, we oversimplify the interplay between their political and theological radicalizations. We have a psychic need to belittle the 19 as we ponder them--as if we are doing our share to visit reputational damage upon them.
This is a silly practice. When we think about a person who has committed a vile act, we reassure ourselves of the person's extreme small-mindedness--that his every moment of consciousness must have achieved an ideal of villainy.
Having done no serious investigation, we conventionally surmise each hijacker was heavily incentivized by his upcoming 72 virgins--that he was positive he would be entering eternal paradise that day.
We seldom contemplate the most obvious alternative--that the median hijacker frequently viewed graphic photographs and videos of destruction he attributed to Israel, that he viscerally held Israel and the USA to be one entity, fully culpable, that the afterlife was for him not a primary consideration and that it might not include sexual desire or conquest.
We would do well to stop fetishizing the hijackers.