i was having a conversation with a friend today about fundamentalism and how anyone can be transformed into a fundamentalist if they are pushed into a corner. even the liberal of liberal can become a fundamentalist if someone knows how to ‘push their buttons’. but that’s just it, why push button? why the need to force people into corners? why? there isn’t a need. there is only a need if we feel like our worldview is the only worldview worth listening to. and not to make this personal, but the need to assert one’s worldview as right and all others as wrong, is the same as a baby throwing a tantrum. babies tend to cry when things don’t go their way or the way they expect it to. and the underlying assumption of any fundamentalist is that you should follow my worldview, and if you don’t i will call you names and belittle you to the point where you either retreat (the fundamentalist would call this ‘winning’) or where you to join my game and become fundamental with me and show your flaws to the world. so how do we discuss ideas with those who would think there is one right way to see truth, god, the world and everything in-between? well, if those that are coming from that school of thought are willing to listen as well as teach, i think that is a good place to start. and if those who don’t come from that school of thought who are also willing to validate some of the views they themselves might have come from, that too is a good place to start. the moment either one asserts that there is a superior view than the battle begins. i would surmise that there is no superior view. there is no third view between the conversation. so, then why talk? to learn. to listen. to connect. to grow. but to grow at one’s own pace. this is the problem with indoctrination, which christianity has been accussed of doing in the past. indoctrination is throwing someone in to a conversation or a set of truths and ‘brainwashing’ them to believe that that worldview is the only valuable one. i think indoctrination is nothing short of war interrogation techniques and comes with the presumptive license that it is our responsibility to be the thought police for everyone and everything. discussion isn’t indoctrination.
dialogue isn’t oppressive theories shoved into a conversation expecting one to convert the other. it is the hope that the participators can engage with two viewpoints on the dissemination of truth and walk away with the opportunity to learn and grow from that conversation. it is not our responsibility, when in conversation to make sure that the other is forced to make some sort of change, it is our responsibility to walk away and ask if we need to make a change? it is how we focus on what conversation is and what we get out of it that will determine the value of it and also how we approach it. i think its important we understand that our view has value, but so does everyone else’s. and that could make the difference in how we come into a conversation. reacting to fundamentalism with fundamentalism ends up with no one learning anything except how bruised their egos could get. the word that jesus uses when he says to us to ‘teach’ in the verse that we are encouraged to teach all nations is also the same word (at the root) that we use to describe ‘learn’. dialogue is about two people learning and two people teaching. it is a dance, not a war. it is partnership not an assertion of individualism. the moment we assume our worldview is the ‘right’ one is the moment we become the god of our own world. the moment we accept that the views of others might have something to teach us (too) is the moment we step down from our philosophical thrones and become the paupers of truth.