In a hugely controversial move, the Swedish government has moved to ban teaching religious doctrine in schools as if it were true.
Well butter my buns & call me a biscuit; here’s something I never did think I’d see. Sweden’s population is about 50% atheist, but this legislation is widely rumored to be aimed at religious fundamentalists, not the generally religious portion of the citizenry. According to the article:
There is little doubt that combating Islamic fundamentalism is the underlying aim, especially in conjunction with another new requirement that all independent schools declare all their funding sources. This would allow the inspectors – whose budget is being doubled – to concentrate their efforts on those schools most likely to be paid to break the rules.
In the background to these announcements comes the release of a frightening documentary film on Swedish jihadis, which follows young men over a period of two years on their slow conversion to homicidal lunacy.
The trailer for the documentary “Aching Heart” is absolutely chilling. The young man wearing a ski mask and holding an automatic weapon makes it clear he views himself as a holy warrior. At some point, someone will have to explain to me with clear, credible reasoning why these religions that preach love and tolerance always end up killing people for the not-really-all-that-horrible sin of not believing the same thing they do. I don’t care what religion; you are not a “warrior for god.” Once you start killing people, you’re a homicidal maniac.
Is this, then, the only recourse? While I personally find Sweden’s decision grounded in reason and logic, there are plenty of people who will view it as a deep insult to their culture and history. Is there really no other way to remove fundamentalism? And will this move not result in the opposite effect; religious fundamentalists fighting harder than ever to take what they see as their rightful place? Knowing my countrymen as I do, I cannot see a time in my future in which this would be a viable option for my nation. Hell, people get angry when someone tells them “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” and that’s just at the damn store. Tell them they can’t have their sky fairy taught in religious schools as fact? May as well go to the White House and press the button yourself.
I will be following this story with interest.
Something that, to me, has always been axiomatic is that hate is a type of fear. It blinds us to opposing or even parallel but differing view points, it causes extreme emotional reactions, and it often renders us irrational. Hate is very powerful, indeed, and I am frequently struck by its casual use in every day conversation. “Oh, I hate that….” seems to be said rather frequently. The word “hate” is extremely powerful; like “love” it shouldn’t be used lightly.
After studying fundamentalism and speaking with a number of fundamentalists, I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of them confuse the emotion they attach to their belief. They do not love. They hate. It is not love for their god, but hatred for anything different or new that drives their zeal. This is what differentiates the fundamentalist from the believer. And I say this because, while I’ve been able to have rational, intelligent conversations with believers, conversations with fundamentalists invariably result in circular arguments and knee jerk, emotional responses. And what it comes down to is fear.
Fear’s a normal response to change. The problem is when we give in to that fear, reason goes out the window, and we allow our emotions to make our decisions. This is dangerous on several levels. We fail to see that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing; that regardless of what the change means, it represents growth. Every time something changes, we learn something new. And change doesn’t automatically mean that everything that came before is now null and void.
Hmmm….example. My grandparents were born in Italy. The word tradition means something to my family. It represents everything that it means to be Italian. Every Sunday, my mom, my aunt, my cousin and I would all gather in my grandmother’s kitchen and we’d make dinner together. Then we’d all sit around at the big table with the rest of the family and talk and laugh and eat. It’s one of my happiest memories from my childhood. Now, my grandmother died about 7 years ago. My aunt, my cousins, siblings and I have all moved out of the area. But I still carry on the tradition of Sunday dinner with my husband and children, and the joy of cooking for people I love which my grandmother instilled in me is still there. It’s morphed some, is all. It’s still tradition. It’s my translation of it. It isn’t necessary to lose the tradition while still adapting to change.
But fundamentalism doesn’t recognize that any good can come from change. It’s so afraid of what MAY happen, it can’t allow any deviation at all. And that is its fatal flaw. Because change is inevitable. It’s one of the few things we can count on.