to render harmless
Oct 12, 2001 07:25 AM
by Eldon B Tucker
Here's something that I just posted to another list, minus
a quote from another message that I'm not cross-posting.
One of the things a cult does to reinforce the belief of
its members is to have them cut off contact with outsiders.
This includes stopping seeing friends and family of "non-believers."
It also means avoiding exposure to news, literature, and public
events where "the influences of corrupt society" can taint one.
Without a constant exposure to a variety of cultures, peoples,
views, and values, we can come to accept our group's
story of life as literal truth. This happens regardless of the
type of group. It could be a religion, culture, cult, tribe,
commune, or political action group.
The constant exposure to a variety of views helps us break away
from the literal, unthinking, wholesale acceptance of some group's
story line. It helps us question our own beliefs, to continue our
self-examined life (which would make Socrates happy), and be
tolerant of others that differ.
The biggest danger is in isolated groups that have a belief
that others must be converted or destroyed. Without humanizing
contact with the outside world, they'd think nothing of wholesale
killing of non-believers.
American culture does not have the long-established customs
of Europe. It is heterogeneous, and tolerates a wide spectrum
of beliefs and customs to coexist. It's not perfect, and there
are always exceptions, but the openness is a general rule.
People of all religions and customs coexist in friendship and
cooperation. There's an opportunity for all views to be heard,
although lingering intolerance can be seen in places, like in
universities, newspapers, and communities that show a definite
political bias and don't give an equal hearing to opposing
With the advent of the Internet, we see the same cosmopolitan
experience in literature and communication. On a mailing list,
we may see a much wider range of views that we may come
across in some meeting we may go to in person.
This openness, in both American and the Internet, are a
threat to fundamentalism. Groups that want to control your
thought are threatened when you hear opposing views.
Theosophical and religious organizations that want to keep
your thinking along a specific line would have you avoid
the mailing lists. Political groups likewise don't want you
talking to their opponents, whom they've blacklisted and
branded as awful.
The most dangerous type of fundamentalist is one who has
targeted you as enemy. If your lifestyle and ideas are in
opposition to the "true faith," your life is in danger.
I think this is what's happening to the United States now.
We're a threat to Islamic extremists, ones who would rather
kill billions of people than let the "purity" of their
belief be tainted. If they had weapons of mass destruction
and the means to deploy the weapons, they would not hesitate
to use them to their fullest capacity.
We're threatened by religious fanatics that have turned into
mass murderers with the ultimate goal of destroying western
society (anything non-Islamic). Serial killers need to be
hunted down and apprehended. When there's few of them and
unlimited resources, we can treat this as a civil matter and
put them through the criminal justice system. When there are
armies and countries involved, it becomes a matter of warfare
and a different set of rules apply.
After the army of religious fanatics, out to start a "holy
war" to end non-Islamic society, has been neutralized, then
the next important task is to take out of the stone age the
backward parts of the world where they find their best followers.
With education and broadening exposure to other religions,
political systems, cultures, and viewpoints, people will no
longer provide ready recruits for the religious hate mongers.
There is a positive side to having faith in a religious
or philosophical system. That utter confidence is an
important step towards adopting it as a spiritual practice
and using it to transform one's life. But that faith does
not have to come at the expense of tolerance and understanding.
One can still keep aware of what others think and feel, and
respect it. It is not necessary to kill or convert others to
one's belief for one to hold that belief as special. Even so,
one needs to watch out for others that are fiercely into the
"kill or convert them" mode of belief. They have to be
stopped and rendered harmless.
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