Wednesday, January 19, 2011

writing wrong

[quote="SarahElizabeth"]How is it that the so-called Religious Right always seem to be wrong?
You name the issue, they always seem to be wrong.
I suppose it is Old Testament stuff. Fire and brimstrone. An eye for an eye. And so forth.[/quote]

Actually, this observation, (although perhaps a tad sweeping), touches upon a problem that I find characteristic of fundamentalist thinking; the need for certainty outweighing the need for describing the complexities of social human behavior. Most of us, I think, understand the limitations in our ability to fully encompass reality in our internal conceptualizations; we realize that trade-offs must be made between how we see the world, and how it objectively exists.

Basically, our consciousness helps us survive through what I understand as modeling; that is, by creating a reproduction of reality within our minds, we can predict probable outcomes of various behaviors in new environments. Thus, when novel situations arise, I can guide my choices by the results of various scenarios already experienced within my internal framework of reality. Nowhere near a perfect system, but a useful and viable process, none the less.

However, this construct must serve the needs of the user, first and foremost. The level of certainty needs control, lest the apprehension of the unknown overwhelm and incapacitate the individual. Ambiguities may produce a level of unease unacceptable in daily living; in such instances, something must be sacrificed if cognitive dissonance is to be kept at a workable level.

I think most of us have experienced the realization that our understanding lacks the kind of clarity we suppose we possess; the distasteful shock of ignorance seems rarely pleasing to my palate. However, for some, this recognition borders on intolerable, and threatens the very foundation of mental stability.

What I sense in the most reactionary fundamentalist belief systems, (and in all honesty, some of my less irresponsible convictions) are the willingness to abandon external evidence that contradicts dearly held assumptions; rather than risk the disintegration of the cognitive construct, the senses are to be ignored.

Unfortunately, this propensity for denial, when taken to extremes, can create fanatics of a most virulent nature. Dehumanization, destruction and extermination can follow; sweeping aside all aspirations of charity in the wave of righteousness. Dead people tell no tales, and offer much less opposition to our assertions; even the "best" of nations and peoples have deeds that they would like hidden.

I'd like to believe that I hold the sword of truth, but I'd best temper that blade with the realization that my sight is too feeble to use it for more that defense.