Friday, 5 January 2018

Fundamentally Speaking

I don't think you die if your heart breaks, I think you die if you don't let it break.
I've been thinking a bit about fundamentalist Islam, coming from the context of having grown up within a culture part of which identified as fundamentalist Christian. This had both good and bad meanings. Being totally sold out to what you believe in is not itself a problem.

It strikes me that fundamentalist Islam and fundamentalist Christianity, certainly in the bad elements, are basically the same religion just with some of the names and details swapped around a bit. The same conviction that they are right and others are wrong, and that because you're right anything you do in the pursuit  of that right must be right.

These religions, like any belief system, are a world view as well as a set of beliefs. Mostly people think they're good and not evil (except in their darkest imaginings of course, which we all have). So we rationalise our behaviour by forming a worldview in which our actions are good and right. Or, the way we see the world makes it seem like we're making the right choices. These two amount to the same thing anyway, we rationalise ourselves.

The thing is, in Western culture, we've mostly broken the power of the evil version of Christianity. The wildest of its claims have been shown to be so obviously false that more and more people have just seen it. It's harder to be taken in by it.

There is an evil Islam and there is an evil Christianity. I've seen them both. There is a good Christianity, and a good Islam that we can happily live along side of. I've seen them both and they're all just comprised of people. Normal people.

So the way to deal with fundamentalist Islam, like we're dealing with Christianity is to shed some light on it. We have to be standing alongside those in Islamic communities who are doing just this. That means people have to be able to listen to us, able to really see us and not be afraid of us. That can only happen if we're willing  to live alongside the good Islam. If we're not, if we're in a perpetual state of psychological war with Islam because "it's all bad" (actually because we're scared) then that will only happen more gradually.

It's a journey of course, it is actually quite a different culture and way of seeing the world than the one many of us are used to. That means there's stuff we can learn. New ways of seeing the world are useful.

Even if you disagree with me, the only way to win anyone in any meaningful way is to genuinely love them. So first stop caring about how much you disagree with them. That applies to me as much as to anyone else.


"You can be good without being right. You have to choose to let your goodness make you right. And it starts with accepting that you're probably wrong.

I know I am wrong in so many ways, but I'm willing to be right wherever it may take me and whatever it may cost me."

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