Hitmen in our Midst

    A thousand years ago, in the early part of the eleventh century, a rebellious Shiite Muslim sect called the Nizari seized control of a mountaintop castle in Teheran, the capital of modern day Iran.  This was the first in what would turn into a series of attacks conducted against political leaders of the Islamic world by this group.  Using their weapon of choice, the dagger, these men used deceptive tactics to murder princes, scholars, crusaders, and anyone else they felt could get in the way of their agenda. While their loyalty to others could never be ensured, their dedication to achieving their own selfish goals was unquestioned. 

     The founder of this group was Hassan-I-Sabbah, a man who epitomized extremism and even ordered the death of his own son for drinking wine.  This group of dangerous killers was well-known for having fickle allegiances, executing Crusaders at one moment and then offering their services for hire to carry out execution attempts on behalf of the Crusaders the next. 

   Clearly, the only true loyalty these men had was to their own interests.
    In many respects, these dangerous men were a precursor to the terrorist factions such as Al-Qaeda we are all too familiar with today.  They were ruthless men who specialized in killing anyone who did not share in their beliefs or accept their view of the world. 

    For almost 150 years the power of this band of radicals grew, that is, until Genghis Khan’s grandson, Hulagu, was able to capture their principle mountain stronghold and break their reign of terror. However, the dark legacy of this band of professional “hit” men did not diminish as Crusaders returned to the western world with tales of their unpredictable adversary’s exploits, evoking fear and terror at the very mention of their chosen name: The Assassins.

   Today, the word assassin is familiar to most of us.  However, we must realize that assassins are no longer limited to wayward sects, radical ideologies, or even Hollywood movies.  The truth is, they are found all around us; at work in many of our homes, workplaces, worship spaces, and communities.

    Like the rebellious sect of old, the allegiance of today’s modern day assassins is also flexible. They too often shift their loyalty to the individual or group who helps them promote their own agenda over that of those around them. Despite using different weapons and tactics, today’s hitmen in our midst is every bit as deadly as their counterparts were over a millennium ago. For although they no longer use daggers to achieve their objectives, they do employ something equally powerful: Hateful words, deception, intimidation, and manipulation. 

  Hateful words are the weapons of animosity, anger, and malice we express towards a person, group, or object.  They are weapons in the sense that they can wound another person psychologically and emotionally.

  Deception is a particularly hurtful weapon as it is can be used to convince others to believe something that is either partially true or worse, an outright lie. It intentionally misleads others in order to gain some unexpected or unfair advantage over them. 
   Intimidation is employed consciously or unconsciously and many people use this weapon to coerce others to adopt their own self-serving motives. It silences debate, encourages questionable practices to go undetected, and allows mistakes and mismanagement to become the norm.
   Last, but certainly not least, manipulation is a subtle, but very dangerous weapon people use to selfishly promote themselves over those around them.  

   So, does anything in this story ring true for you?  Do you know of someone who routinely uses these destructive and divisive tools to tray and get their way? Or worse, have you yourself used the dagger of hateful words, deception, intimidation, or manipulation to promote yourself over those around you? If you have, rest assured you’re not alone. But what’s important today is not what you’ve chosen to do in the past, but what you will choose to do in the present. 

    If you are truly committed to leading your life in a more excellent way, my recommendation for you is simple. Choose to lay the dagger down once and for all. For only then can you begin to model the very attitudes and actions that will make it possible for the fruit of authenticity, integrity, accountability, and sincerity to flourish and grow.

   So again, the choice rests with you.  I pray you choose wisely.

Copyright © 2012 - All Rights Reserved
John Michel
experienced leader, humanitarian, visioneer, and renown status quo buster,
is the author of the ground breaking book:
Mediocre Me: How Saying No to the Status Quo will Propel you from Ordinary to Extraordinary
Check out his blog at www.MediocreMe.com or drop him a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.