Fundamentalist – have you ever been called that? Maybe not but you have heard the word “fundamentalism,” and it is usually associated with religion. However, when you check any good dictionary you will find that it goes deeper.
The definition of “Fundamentalism” includes – “strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline.”
Fundamentalist In All Its Form
Many years ago, a supervisor of mine during my chaplaincy training cautioned me about being a “liberal fundamentalist.”
Puzzled by her warning, let us call it that, I asked her to expound. Basically, what she pointed out to me that being a fundamentalist does not relate only to religion. She advised me that it is important to know who you are and stay true to one’s principles. At the same time, she said that it is equally important to offer and allow others the same right.
Still not sure what she meant, I asked her to be more specific. That was when she laid it out for me. My views have always been on the liberal side, the side that believes everyone is equal before the law and that being treated justly is not a privilege but a right of every human.
As mentioned before, fundamentalism is not restricted to religion, religious beliefs and attitudes. On a wider scale, it includes politics and also in one’s personal life. This was an eye-opening conversation for me.
What she explained is that being a fundamentalist in any form is basically trying or actually being a bully, trying to ram your beliefs on others.
2020, COVID-19 And Politics Are Full Of Lessons
This year, 2020, has been a life-changer for many. Too many lost their lives to COVID-19 and more will be forever impacted with health challenges as a result of the virus.
Many, myself included, are dying for this year to end. In our minds, it is about the date but is it really?
Went to bed pretty late last night and was up less than four hours later and went straight to where I left off, to watch the US Presidential Elections. As I type this, the next President of the United States of America is still not yet known. Hopefully, that will change by the end of today.
Frankly, I was hopeful for a resounding defeat of the 45th President of that country. Without going into the details of his politics, let me just say that his approach, style and rhetoric are not ones that I can endorse or find appealing.
Is it my right to be angry that so many people seem not to agree with me? No, unless I am being a bully, a fundamentalist – strictly adhering to my own principles and expecting everyone to see it my way.
Being the political junkie that I have been since the age of seven, it has always been my view that these things form part of basic human rights:
- access to justice
- equity on all levels of society
- being able to live in peace no matter one’s race, religion, nationality, etc
Since that conversation with my supervisor, it has been a continuous process of learning to accept that, whether my view of human rights is valid, others have a right to theirs as well. Any attempt to force or coerce people into my way of thinking is being dogmatic.
One of the many lessons that my American friends on all sides, but with greater emphasis on those on the supposed left, is this:
You cannot assume that everyone thinks as you do, should think as you do even if their or your life depends on it.
You would think that with so many still sick and many who will die from COVID-19, that everyone will wear a mask to save lives. No, even here in Canada a rising number of people are refusing to do so.
The lesson? Stop, listen, pay attention and meet people where they are and while you might present your view, never bully or try to force them to change.
People wrap themselves in their beliefs. And they do it in such a way that you can’t set them free. Not even the truth will set them free.”―
The Art Of Persuasion
Simply put, “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.” That is what Desmond Tutu told us.
That will be the walk from here into 2021. My hope is that we all, on the religious, political and personal levels will take that journey.
Peace and Love,