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Monday, February 2, 2009

The Willing Fundamentalist

Just as my kitty of topics to blog on was running dry, i run into this post by Silverine. It got me thinking on fundamentalism, and how people can readily recognize it in the newspapers and on TV, but not in their own life. Recently, one of the long winding conversations with my cousin, landed on the topic of how certain elders in our family have a rigid set of value systems and how they expect us to conform to the same. The set of value systems, under its umberalla would cover everything from trifle things, such as what sort of music to play in the car, to the more serious things, such as what career stream one should follow. In their defense, let me note here that these people are not cracked eggs by a long shot. They live happy lives, take good care of their families, help out their neighbors and are, in general, fun people to hang out with.
One of the earlier conversation with my cousin had to do with fundamentalism, and how in today's world, we only notice one ugly face of it, namely religious fundamentalism. The other forms of fundamentalism are either ignored or are not recognized. Perhaps it would be easier to recognize fundamentalism, if we knew what it was. Wiktionary tells me that fundamentalism is 'Strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles'. Definition wise, this cannot be a bad thing. Living your life by a strict set of principles, is mostly a good thing, provided the principles are not taken out of a bad slasher movie! So when exactly does fundamentalism go bad? In my opinion, it is when we impose our principles and ideas upon someone who subscribes to a different school of thought and expects them to conform to our ideas/principles. This definition would place a lot of people on the wrong side of the fence. It might place NGOs, who oppose movies based on touchy topics and Journos, who cant take criticism, in the same league as our famed 'Moral police'. However it is high time that we classify
them for what they all are : The Willing fundamentalist. This badge of shame may provoke a few "Fundamentalists" to mend their ways. Only then can we hope to eradicate intolerance from our society.


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