Saturday, 10 May 2008

Right Wing, Left Wing…Why are they so much alike?

Fundamentalism and extreme progressivism both harbor the very same penchant for intolerance. The more I live, the more I have witnessed this tendency. What I find fascinating, is that many people who remain at these outer edges of political, scientific, philosophical and religious discourse are so very much alike. It is as though they were the same people, yet they froth at each other spewing extreme vitriol, and their intolerance borders on the sociopathic. Even more illuminating is the observation that many of these people more often than not have had their formative years spent in a fundamentalist upbringing, only to reject such notions fully and find themselves at the polar opposite those teachings. It can work the other way round, but there are far fewer examples. Yet the same behavior is continuously exhibited, and the main trait can be summed up as intolerance for divergent views. I believe much of what passes for democratic discourse today in this country is simply people on the fringes yelling at each other across the masses of moderates and centrists, hoping to capture our attention or distract us with "sound bites".

Clearly, there is something going on that is damaging to the soul, or intellect, if you prefer among people who fall into these groups. I believe the problem is essentially the fact that the act of questioning has never been instilled in them. Or better said, from a young and formative age, the natural tendency to ask questions has been denied, and its growth stunted. Within such a fanatical framework skepticism is seen as an intellectual weakness. Later on, such becomes a real barrier to achieving experiential knowledge and maintaining a healthy skepticism. It's as if these people are forever stunted from becoming who they really are, and instead, they grasp onto ideologies clinging desperately and defending them to the bitter end, even when they prove to be less than correct. It is like a scientist that is so convinced of a theory, that he'll formulate the most absurd conditions to prove it. It's like science's obsession with the "ether", until finally one day, somebody said, "hey!, maybe there's no such thing as the ether!".

Let's keep the Socratic method alive, and burn our idols!

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