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'Fundamentalism is the treatment for the burdens of sanity' -- Dr SAkhtar

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bobbieinok Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-20-06 09:23 PM
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'Fundamentalism is the treatment for the burdens of sanity' -- Dr SAkhtar


It's a 2005 article by Dr. Salman Akhtar, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Delhi ...

"Sanity," says Akhtar, "has its own burdens, and fundamentalism is the treatment for those burdens." His argument spins on six specific burdens of sanity:

-- Factual uncertainty: the need to carry on even when we don't know all the facts
-- Conceptual complexity: Our ability to interpret the world, and choose our path among many
-- Moral ambiguity: There are almost no one-size-fits-all laws and rules. How do we make the punishment suit the crime?
-- Cultural impurity: Human culture is a mix of many influences, which can make establishing one's own identity difficult
-- Personal responsibility: Sometimes, shit happens. Sometimes, it's our fault. How do we accurately assign responsibility?
-- The confrontation of our own mortality: Death comes to us all, though we almost compulsively deny it.

We all struggle with these issues all our lives. They always demand a great deal of us; in fact, they're the questions that call us on to psychological and spiritual maturity, and the degree of wisdom we can bring to bear in answering them may be a valid measure of our overall success as human beings. But, for many who find they simply can't cope, fundamentalism offers the security of reassurance and pat answers...


Our safety -- from outsiders, from our own government, and from each other has been fraying for years, a decay that has accelerated since 9/11. This has also affected our sense of efficacy -- the ability to choose and direct our own lives and futures, and participate meaningfully in our own culture -- which has been eroding for the past three decades along with our economic, educational, political, and other infrastructures. We don't feel safe; and worse, we don't feel like we can effectively do much about it.

Being American has always been an exercise in ambiguous identity -- it’s part and parcel of our God-given right to self-recreation -- but those who defined their "Americanism" as a form of racial or religious purity have been on the wrong side of history for the past 50 years, and are feeling deeply threatened as a result.

Sexuality has always been a fraught and complicated issue for this Puritan nation, and has become only more so since the advent of birth control and women's emergence into the workplace. Our assumptions around generativity have been in flux as well: questions about who breeds, and why, and when, and how form the common thread that runs through all our culture-war conversations about abortion, gay rights, and even immigration. Parents of all political and religious persuasions will tell you America is a hard and hostile place to be raising children these days; and also of their general unease and impotence when it comes to their ability to transmit the culture and values they'd like to see carried on.


We will not, Akhtar suggests, roll back the raging fundamentalist horde anywhere until we restore a cultural climate in which most individuals can feel safe, effective and capable, strong in their personal identities, free to express their sexuality in healthy ways, and supported in their efforts to build and sustain families. When most people have access to these assets, they do not feel nearly as drawn to authoritarian religion and politics. His point seems to match up well with what we know of healthy societies -- including our own, in better decades. And it offers some essential, concrete criteria we can use to build both foreign and domestic policies that will discourage people from embracing authoritarian religion and politics, and remain strong in their desire and capacity for democratic self-rule.

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-20-06 09:34 PM
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1. Fundamentalism is a reaction to rapid change.
("Reactionary", eh?) and it exhibits in people that cannot cope with the rate of change. It is no accident, for example, that fundamentalism is more popular in rural and provincial parts of the USA, as opposed to the more cosmopolitan coastal regions. Everyone gets tired of too rapid change at some point, that's why older people tend more conservative. It's just a question of where your limits are. Since the USA makes a quasi-religion out of "progress" and keeping up with change, and since the real change in attitudes in the cultural area in the last 50 years has been nothing short of astonishing, it is no wonder the political dialog is bonkers.
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-20-06 09:34 PM
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2. It is easier in many ways.
Just like when Bush said his job would be easier if he were a dictator.

Well now is it George?
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-21-06 05:48 PM
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3. Dr. Akhtar sounds like he has all his buttons. nt
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