Fundamentalism is a religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views. A fundamentalist mindset insists things are one way or another and to suggest otherwise can very often incite varying degrees of violence, be it verbal, emotional or physical. It can tend to be coercive. I will be discussing that particular kind of intolerance in this blog. I know eyes roll when that word, intolerance, is used, because it is over used at times improperly used to silence people that think differently, but this is not how I intend to explore it, so please hear me out.
There are many different types of intolerance- religious, political, racial, gender, national and ethnic and that list goes on and on. My basic understanding is that in the mind of a individual like this everyone should do things their way or there will be some degree of consequence as defined by them, their leaders or their writings. Regarding those consequences, the intolerant individual will often be very happy to lay them out for you and quite explosively if they deem it necessary. At best this only manifests in secret judgements. At worst….well, we have seen that lately, haven’t we? This kind of intolerance’s need to control and manipulate others into accepting and embracing their perceptions is more often than not rooted in fear. Truth doesn’t need defending, it defends itself. There is no fear in it thus no reason to react aggressively when it’s not accepted. Truth is secure and solid. Within this paradigm is the desire to replicate oneself and ones views in another using emotional coercion as a catalyst. The possibility that the fundamentalist might be in error or even a bit short sighted is rarely considered. This person is convinced he or she is 100% accurate, and you, well, you are just lost and need to find your way or worse….. you have lost your very significance as a human being in their eyes. Respect for another human being and their free will to make their own choice is not offered, nor appreciated, in fundamentalism. There is no humility or humanity in this approach of winning people to your point of view.
Before feathers get too ruffled please allow me to unpack this a bit. Besides the obvious political insanity that has just unfolded, on both ends of the isle, there are many other examples of this in our society. Recently I had a “spiritual” conviction in my own life in that I felt I needed to stop eating meat and dairy. It’s personal to me and I made this change for many reasons I won’t go into in this blog. I feel no need to defend my choice or explain it to anyone unless they are just extremely curious for some reason. Anyway, as I searched out recipes and guidelines on the web I unfortunately encountered many vegan fundamentalists. Yes, they are out there. These individuals are angry and intolerant of anyone that does not share their point of view and eat the way they do. They see meat eaters as immoral and they the ones responsible for defining that moral guideline, not just for themselves, but for everyone else in the world. Frankly this is highly repellent. I am not drawn to these groups because of their judgemental approach and method in getting their point across. Wrong or right, this degree of disrespect is obnoxious. I feel this same ‘vibe’ in the modern feminist movement, the religious right, the far right, with certain atheists, ISIS, certain scientists, the far left and I could go on. If I am wrong I prefer to be educated not verbally, emotionally or physically assaulted. You may somehow force me to comply, so I might stay alive or be left alone, but you do not posses my heart. You have not truly converted me when these are your tools. In this case you have coerced me and that is deeply wrong. I have the right to choose whether to be educated about a topic or not so long as I am not harming myself or another person. Feel free to educate me about how running a red light is harmful. I can hear that. I see where another person could be harmed by my actions in that event. But don’t attempt to force me to hate a certain group of individuals because they don’t embrace your story about what is right or wrong. If you respect me I should have the right to evaluate that for myself even if, in the end, I decide not to embrace your point of view. There is a way to qualify these things and it is not difficult.
This brings me to the title of this blog. When one sees themselves as a victim they do not see themselves as responsible for their own thoughts and emotions any longer. They have unwittingly given that power over to the individual or system that they believe, real or imagined, victimized them. They may very well see YOU as the reason for their misery and YOU as the reason for many or most of the world’s problems if you do not comply with their way of thinking or do what they want you to do. Eventually these individuals may act on these emotions in very destructive ways and just so you know they do so quite unconsciously. They, themselves, are traumatized. This is the root of intolerance. The very people accusing others of intolerance are themselves extremely intolerant because they are traumatized individuals that have categorized themselves as victims and sadly cannot escape that mindset. They have been captured by their own thoughts. Now, to be clear, people are hurt and treated unjustly and I am not discounting or invalidating that experience. People should behave respectfully to others but what constitutes that definition of ethical behavior is a very small and simple list. It falls under the banner of common sense and decency. What I am discounting is ‘staying in that experience’, the experience of victim-hood. Truly, no one can make you feel or think anything unless you choose to. To remain in that experience, entrapped in a past painful event, is to imprison oneself. Frankly, with this mindset, that of a victim, this poor individual will ultimately fail, not only in their attempts to win others to their point of view but also to grow, progress and mature as a human being and find peace and fulfillment in their own life. A mind not examined is madness and that is what we are seeing in the world today. If this is you, please hear me. A victim, that remains in that frame of mind, always becomes the “victimize-er”, without fail. What you hate you will become and then you will ultimately hate you, because like it or not, that is a an extreme moral incongruity to the mind. I don’t want to see anyone do that, because I did, and it was not a good experience.
What you will find, when you begin to examine your thoughts, and question whether those thoughts are absolutely true, is freedom, healing and peace….on the inside. You might be right about some things, but because you are human, like all of the rest of us, you will probably be wrong about some things as well. There is very little any of us know without a shadow of a doubt to be 100% true. Our perceptions are extremely limited. Only about 3% of our environment is perceivable by the average human being using our available senses. We all live in different areas of the world, grow up differently and experience life differently in good and bad ways and if we let those experiences fully define us we will be very limited in our thinking indeed. When we end the war in our minds, and the imagined one with others, we begin to end war in the world. If we take responsibility for our own thoughts and emotions and focus on fixing what is within, it is a win win for the entire world. People want to follow an example like that. To escape misery one must examine their own mind. It is truly the only thing within your control. Reality is always kinder than illusion.
The only way out, is in.
Be free and cheers!