Fundamentalist Tendencies

In the field of politics or thought, we normally speak about the left and right as the extremes. Surely there are centrist parties too. Any of the extremes definitely possess some fundamentalist tendencies, which I would define as ‘consideration that my view alone is right’. There might be very few who are 100% right or left, but they stand somewhere in that spectrum with left and right on both sides. Today, right wing fundamentalism is more often seen in the world than the left wing. Probably that was more popular at some stages of enlightenment or in the peak of communism.

Some of the commonly reserved characteristics for right wing would be conservative nature, more power for markets, less governmental control (which is not always true). The separation of religion and state is not so rigorously opposed as left (some of the right support the combination). They know what is truth and what is the best thing, the dissent and varying opinions are not easily accepted. Most of us know these aspects. But definitely this tendency in politics worries me. But much more than what worries me is the fundamentalist tendencies being developing in our peoples (especially those in authority — not necessarily political, but even religious and others). Some of the recent examples are

  1. A vast majority of Indians (nearly 57% according to a survey from huffingtonpost) is perfectly fine with military rule. We could argue that the reasons for it can be corruption, inefficiency etc… still a but remains.
  2. Although Pope Francis preaches about mercy each and everytime, many of the sermons of the priests are just judgements.
  3. Along with the government, there is a great dislike among the people to hear alternative view-points.
  4. Past memories are being re-awakened by some leaders and people are carried away by them forgetting the present peaceful co-existence leading to conflicts.
  5. Although science is accepting fuzzy logic more and more now (not just true/false, but areas of greyness), society is moving towards classical logic (right/wrong).
  6. In the age of reason, people are more captured by emotive rhetoric than facts.

It should be worthwhile to see some points to counter this trend.(some were mentioned in a previous post too).

  1. Teachers have a role to equip their students on how to think for themselves. Encourage critical and constructive thinking. Even education should make them more authentic (and not inauthentic).
  2. Teaching some aspects of philosophy (again a danger is some can manipulate the syllabus) atleast in the university levels.
  3. Faith Leaders should try to curb the fundamentalist tendencies present in each religions and help people to live more as humans first (then as christian/hindu/muslim etc). Surely the temptation of getting more respect and reverence is there and right wing fundamentalism is the best for it).
  4. Those who believe in free thinking and sustainable development for all, should use their resources to promote the same (especially when they have power). Prof Ramchandra Guha says that the jingoism and present style of nationalism in India emerged because of the failures of Congress and the Indian left (and other reasons).

The best possible means to counter any development of extremist tendencies is to promote means of development which is just to all sections of society. It is easily said than done. But attempts towards this direction is important. Other suggestions are most welcome. I look forward to it.

A Jesuit interested to think and write; Loves philosophy, spirituality, politics…. Believes in God & well-being of all humans… Open to difference & newness..

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