This post is part confession, part retraction, and a little bit of retooling.
I’m still not quite sure myself, but I’m convinced that yesterday’s post was not one of my best. A little too much rant, too little thought.
It became a topic in my household during the evening, and was expounded upon as the evening went on. The Contrarian read yesterday’s post and had some thoughts. His thoughts were that I was a bit too harsh, and elitist in my words. He saw things from a different perspective. He is right.
It only goes to remind me that we do see the world through our own lens, and we are not always the best judge of objectivity. Indeed, the most objective conclusion usually comes from a fair listening to all sides, or at least more than one. I plead guilty of not doing that. And moreover, not sitting down and really thinking it through, since if I had, I might well have seen the Contrarian’s position with more ease.
I certainly plead guilty to being deeply concerned (perhaps obsessed?) with fundamentalism as a danger to our society. I admit that, and frankly, I don’t back off that much. Fundamentalism is not a religious tenet, though once it was. Today, it is a state of mind, and it transcends religions. It permeates, especially in this country, Christianity, but is also the danger in Judaism that drives the “dig in one’s heels” approach that counsels no negotiations with the Palestinians. It is, as we know, the arm of Islam that continues to wreck havoc around the world.
It’s basis is a worldview that is essential to one’s phychological well being, and it brooks no alternative nor differing point of view. Everyone else is wrong, everyone else is an obstruction, an IT that must be overcome. No ecumenism, no tolerance, no compromise. When two of these groups lock horns, ugliness is coming. Many see the world now poised for the next war–Christianity vs Islam. That is the danger.
My view of fundamentalism leads me to great anger, and intemperance at times. I freely relinquish friendship at this point, because I find it intolerable not to be able to find any tolerance from fundamentalists. Enough said. It leads me at times to belittle, taunt, and otherwise excoriate people who take this extreme position, especially those that have married their biblical fundamentalism, with right wing bizarro politics, with anti-intellectualism in the guise of a repudiation of science and human advances in culture and learning.
This tripartite system is illogical and does extreme violence to the bible, and thus by implication to the message. It makes mockery of our mission as Christians, to do our best to improve the life of all persons and to carry out our responsibilities as brother’s keeper and steward of the planet.
The problem is, as the Contrarian pointed out so clearly to me, is that I am beating the wrong group.
One of the things I have learned about my husband over the years, is that he has unfailing patience and kindness to children and animals. He is utterly impatient with almost every other aspect of life. He hurries everything else. Yet, when it comes to kids and pets or other wildlife, he is soft, gentle, infinitely patient, infinitely forgiving and so forth.
I’ve asked him why. He tells me that it is because they are not adults and not human. Thus much less is expected of them. He doesn’t expect a child to be an adult, so doesn’t expect them to act in life as adults. They will be irrational, silly, impatient, and so forth, and it is irrational to get angry at them being their age. Similarly, animals are not human, and we cannot expect them to not act stupidly, and without regard to their safety or ours at times.
He says, I have expected way to much from people whom one should not expect so much from. The guy who listens to Rush and Sean and Glenn, hasn’t had the luxury of a top notch education, or perhaps anything much past high school. He has had to work hard every day just to make a go of it. He doesn’t have time for reading a lot of books, nor to watch a lot of high brow educational shows. He’s told by the Fox types that he is right to blame anyone but himself. He learns its right to blame African Americans for lots of stuff that’s wrong (they are the highest number of inmates after all in our prisons), and he’s subtly informed that he should avoid saying that out loud, but believing it is okay. And sadly, the list of who to blame becomes inexhaustible, including immigrants, Muslims, Asians, socialists, communists, gays, liberated women, the Left in general, liberal churches, virtually anyone who the neo-con can dream up that they can direct the ire of the religious right and working class at.
The people to blame are not those who have been so taken advantage of and so horribly co-opted to do the devil’s work. The blame resides with the conservative elites, the neo-cons like Billy Krystal and Billy O’Reilly, and Demint, and Bachmann, and all those who have had benefit of all the elite educations.
These are the folks who are playing pied piper to the children of the bowling alleys of America. They are the ones who for personal profit or ideological advantage, say the things these folks long to hear and want to believe, if only to make themselves feel equal in a decidely unequal world.
They do it deliberately, manipulating fears. And we all have plenty to fear. We fear how we will end up in our old age. We fear being unable to give our kids the kind of life we felt we enjoyed. We fear not being able to have our medical needs met. We fear annialation by those who think very differently than we do. And they push every button, assuring us our fears are legitimate, and that all would be well if we just returned to a set of moral precepts they assign to the Christian religion.
Moreover, we are gently led down the road to believe that “tough love” is required. We are re-inforced that “love the sinner, hate the sin, is legitimate and for the good of the sinner. It’s nothing but blatant bigotry of course, and masks nothing but fear and resentment, but that is not what we are told. We are told to admonish, to force by legislation if necessary, rules and laws that will make God proud. This they say, but of course this they do not do.
No, they are at least as bad as any Democrat when it comes to personal shortcomings. Those of us on the Left remain astounded that this doesn’t sink in, and cause a dissaffection. But it does not, rather it evidences that Satan is alive and working even harder than ever.
I have no answer, but the Contrarian was right. The one so abused is not the one to rail at, it’s the person who so coldly and with so much calculation is using the little guy to support a hidden agenda, that in the end will fall as hard on him as on the Left. I apologize.