The post-election reactionary landscape in America has been marked by a full-throated manifestation of what I would term, ‘Progressive Fundamentalism.’ While I share some of the concerns of many on the Left, I’m afraid the movement is fast becoming exactly that which it claims to despise.
The Progressive Left has every right to protest that which they oppose. And given their expectations, the disappointment–even fear–prompted by Trump’s victory is understandable. But Progressives’ increasing demands to alter the cultural landscape in ways that demand changes such as replacing the right of free speech with ‘safe speech zones,’ etc., to say nothing of their escalating penchant for violence are rapidly redefining them. Once claiming to be the herald of tolerance, civil rights and inclusivity, Progressivism is rapidly descending into a kind of boorish, intellectual/cultural totalitarianism that should give us all pause…including true Progressives themselves.
Fundamentalism is typically considered in a religious context. But if we simply substitute ‘ideology’ for ‘religion,’ the parallels become obvious:
- A strong motivation of fear
- Assumptions of certainty
- The world as a struggle against ‘The Other’
- A central source of leadership/authority
- Beliefs that must be encompass every area of life
- Delegitimatizing alternative perspectives
These characteristics should be familiar to us all. In every news cycle, hysterical students are wringing their hands in fear, protestors are zealously parroting their leaders’ claims, and anyone who disagrees is shouted down, slandered or worse. The recent muzzling of Milo Yiannopoulos–the gay, Jewish Conservative–is a case in point. So let me gently warn my Progressive friends to step back and consider who you are becoming.
But, lest my friends on the Right are feeling smug, it should be stated very plainly that the reactionary response of Conservatives all through the Obama years proves the point that Fundamentalism is not just a problem of the Left.
As per usual, the remedy is found in the words of Jesus. ‘Remove the log in your own eye first.’ A humble reassessment of our responses to situations we don’t like is always a good beginning…whether we are a Progressive or a Trumper, a Christian, a Jew or a Muslim.
The truth is, humility does not dilute conviction, it empowers it. And the good news is that a little humility goes a long way.
No, this is not about sushi.
Wabi-sabi is a Japanese art form. But more than that, it is a recognition that wellness and imperfection co-exist, beautifully. It is therefore the aesthetic of the authentic– an appreciation of how the world actually is. Wabi-sabi celebrates Wisdom AS art.
Compare the beauty of our friends here. The young woman is, well, attractive to be sure. But what about the kindly depth in the eyes of the gentle woman tucked around herself? I’m guessing every wrinkle offers a story worth hearing.
Indeed the fellow with the slick hair is handsome. But let’s not miss the inspiring joy of old grey beard. I’m guessing that smile of his was hard won.
We can learn from Wabi-sabi…and if we do, perhaps we can all laugh like this fellow.
for The Seduction of Eva Volk. If you haven’t read this one, it’s the first American novel dealing with the Hitler Era from the German point of view. I hope you’ll give it a look!
Recently, Facebook banned me from advertising. I asked why and– at this writing–they’ve not yet answered. I’m guessing someone skimmed the headlines of this blog and misconstrued the content. Maybe.
The issue of freedom and intolerance comes to mind. Should we be free to be intolerant, small-minded, stupid, blind, ignorant? Should we really be that free?
Of course. There is no freedom without choices, even poor ones. And I certainly don’t like the idea of government defining ‘poor choices’ for us.
So, I defend Facebook’s right to shut down my advertising. I hope they will always be free to be as intolerant as they choose. And I hope I am always free to advertise somewhere else.
May it never be any other way.
My next novel will explore the diabolical danger of perfectionism. It shows up in ruined personal relationships, in materialist utopianism, and in spiritual impulses expressing as ‘Christian Perfectionism’ or in spiritual/energetic disciplines intended to reveal the divine that supposedly IS us. In the end, perfectionism ultimately denies our humanity which is why all such efforts are doomed to fail and usually at a great cost. I can say none of this better than Richard Rohr, Roman Catholic mystic. The following is excerpted from his Dec 9, 2016 blog entry. Follow him via http://www.cac.org.
The demand for the perfect is the enemy of the possible good. Be peace and do justice, but don’t expect perfection in yourself or the world. Perfectionism contributes to intolerance and judgmentalism, and makes ordinary love largely impossible. Jesus was an absolute realist, patient with the ordinary, the broken, the weak, and those who failed. Following him is not a “salvation scheme” or a means of creating some ideal social order as much as it is a vocation to share the fate of God for the life of the World, and to love the way that God loves—which we cannot do by ourselves.