Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

“THE CONSENTING FUNDAMENTALIST,” (PART 01)

August 21, 2012

OK, the title of this post is kind of a play on Mohsin Hamid’s “the Reluctant fundamentalist,” (smile) But, I am exploring fundamentalism (in the context of both christianity and Islam) and giving a picture and nonprofessional psychological theories). All of these opinions and theories are directly related to my own experience, but “might” be able to be applied to the experiences of others. I’d love to hear your opinions and thoughtt on the matter.
There are at least four main schools of thought in Suni Islam (I don’t know how many different schools are in shia’ Islam) and hundreds of different strands of christianity. All have different rules and Holy reasons to support their beliefs. I don’t know enough about the other religions to include them in this post, so I won’t.
what makes a person gravitate to a specific type of religion? All would pronounce that “God/ Allah” led them to this particular religion, but I believe that it is more complex than this. We are all looking for “something.” God/Allah gives us that “something” in the form of the religion that we choose. Many people, including me, go through phases and stages of fundamentalism to liberalism. I am not immune from this unsettling practice and will recount my own experiences later in this and other successive posts. but, I do think that there are certain characteristics that make fundamentalism (whether in christianity or Islam) attractive, just as there are characteristics of more liberal approaches to religion which are also very appealing. I am not naive or arrogant enough to think that I am the first who has wondered about such a thing. so, my first thought is to search the internet. I found psychological articles, but forgot DH’s password to our local library, so I can’t read them. (I hate my memory). Many of the books cited, however, either focus on Islam, Violence or Homosexuals in the context of Christianity. I have found two interesting titles that are yet to be translated into formats that I can readily access. the two titles are:
Religious Fundamentalism and Social Identity
By Peter Herriot
Published January 25th 2007 by Routledge – 144 pages
The psychology of religious fundamentalism
RW Hood, PC Hill, WP Williamson – 2005 – books.google.com
If anyone has read them, please give your comments and opinions.
—-
I am a rules person. I have always been. I put on my seatbelt regularly, don’t litter, won’t purposefully Jay-walk (sometimes my dog and/or myself have a problem with walking straight) and generally feel guilty when I do break a law, even if I find it a bit mundain. DH is not necessarily a rules person. If he can get away with not obeying them, he will. But, maybe this is dependent on the specific authoritarian. He finds American Government a bit ambiguous (as he probably does Pakistani Government) and tends not to follow rules, if he can do this without serious consequence to himself. He doesn’t disobey rules as a result of some philosophical or hunamistic epiphany. He disobeys when he feels they are not necessary. Yes, this does make him a bit arrogant. As if, he always knows the best or right thing to do and he will never suffer consequences from not obeying the rule. There are also parts of Islam that he finds difficult to follow. I won’t elaborate here, but sufficed to say, he is the last person that needs to adopt a strict fundamentalist approach. Stop! when I say that he might be adopting a “fundamentalist approach,” don’t call the FBI. This has nothing to do with violence or AntiAmerican sentaments. Yet, there certainly are more strict segments of Islam and he seems to gravitate to them. He is from the Suni School of Hanifi, and although I will elaborate about the schools of Islam — at least, touch on some of the differences and leave the rest to other more knowledgeable people in a later post; just know that Hanifis are pretty strict about some things: the role of women seems to be one of them. but, I’m jumping the gun a bit. Let me go back to my own understanding and experiences.
I understand this draw to a fundamentalistic approach, somewhat. when I was raising my children, (those Adult ones that I talk about occasionally), I admit, I was quite the fundamentalist. Let me elaborate.
*We would do devotion at least once a day — many times twice.
*When my children got into trouble, part of their punishment always required them to read, write or explain passages in the bible which supported my reasoning for the punishment.
*Only christian music (and only certain kinds of christian music because much of it sounded much too secular for me) was to be played on Sunday… … and only positive uplifting music for the rest of the week.
*No drinking, smoking, tattoos, substance use, piercings or tabacco use and limited contact with those who do because we wouldn’t want them to influence you.
*no premarrital sex, (which included any contact with certain private body parts and intimate kissing) and only group dating when you are teens(fifteen and up).
* no celebration of Halloween.
* no movies over PG rating soon turned into — no TV.
* no swearing or saying some words that aren’t actually swear words, but have negative connotations.
*dressing modestly meant not showing cleveage; nothing above midcalf (including splits); no spaghetti strap or bear shoulder and no too tight clothing.
*no working on sunday.
*eat healthy, which means limited sugar and preservatives.
*The Parent’s decision is the final one: while you might try a good debate, there is no questioning.
Those are the only ones that I can think of at the moment, but I am sure that my family would say that I was quite conservative. We attended a baptist church which affiliated itself with Southern Baptist, but in some circumstances, made every attempt to be as conservative as posible. It was only recently that the church had supported interracial marriage, yet, I know that many – most – of the members would (outwardly support interracial marriage — but wouldn’t want their child to engage in such a practice).
So, I ask myself, “what drew me to this conservative / fundamentalist lifestyle? (I’ll get to the “How did it effect your children?” and “why did I leave” questions later). I have always been drawn to the “simple” lifestyle. I rarely go shopping, don’t eat out much and am not very materialistic. I enjoy the simple things like spending time with family, card and board games and believe that relationships and communication is the key to a happy life. I wanted my children, above all, to have a good strong character. I did not want them to be caught up in the glammor and glitz of the world or think that dishonesty, deception or jealousy/envy were “just normal.” I was looking for simplicity and peace. (In fact, I continue to look for such things and even dabbled in quakerism to find it). I was looking for order, security and absolutes. Absolutes are a good way TO ACHIEVE stability. In a world of ambiguity and “shades of grey,” many people search for a solid foundation to stand on: one that does not waffle or crumble. and, I felt that I had to give this to my children, also. My life was chaotic, understandably so, after a breakup with my current husband and a move to a very small town where resources and transportation was limited. My children felt insecure. I was looking for a set of guidelines inwhich I could use to help myself and my children adjust. My own family was kind of fragmented on their support and was still dealing with the consequences of my children’s skin color. That is to say, they were still adjusting to public scrutiny and formulating their own opinions about my children’s racial and cultural heritage. surely, Jesus wouldn’t support racism or ableism or discrimination or socioeconomic preferences or…. … —
so, I looked to christianity — fundamentalist christianity for the answers. After all, God Loves everyone and if Love was the central foundation, how could we actually go wrong?? Familial peace and justice was the goal(nevermind that peace and justice have a difficult time coexisting, sometimes), success was an extra perk. You also find that the more fundamentalist a group is, the more close-knit they are. I longed for a close-knit family. It is natural to want to be a respected member of a community. You want to be “part of the whole.” with my own family being so fragmented, I wanted a family that I could count on; a family that shared my concerns and values; a family that really cared for the well being of my children; and a famly that respected me as an individual and benefitted from my contributions. I don’t think that I ever achieved my goal for “family,” and there are many contributors to these ends. to summarize, my disability, my political ideology, my views on social issues such as poverty and racism and communal hipocrasy were the most dominant factors.
Here was another problem. While I whole-heartedly supported those individual rules, especially those spoke about in the “Sermon on the Mount,” and those that advocated for justice and social equality; I didn’t realize that there was a hierarchy. In many christian circles, conservative politics trumps any other conservative values. For example: Let’s say that to negate materialism and support a simple and honest living, you limit the amount of things that you buy your children. You teach them to work for things they want. But, because you supremely believe in the ideology of capitalism, you don’t begrudge businesses from “doing whatever they must,” to make their money. Personally, you talk about giving and charity, but politically, you support cutting social programs. While “Jesus loves the little children,” the unspoken community mindset was that he must love some children more than others because racism was summarily ignored(unless it was perpetrated with malice and visible contempt), socioeconomic disparages were minimized and international concerns were met with either pity, apathy or an opportunity to convert. There might even be a time, as there was for my own daughter, where you (as in the entire community/ church family that I allowed to help raise my children), supported her decision to get on Birth control between the ages of fifteen and sixteen (the support was secret and without my knowledge), but, “you” outwardly and politically spoke out against teens having premaritral sex and “planned Parenthood.” You advocated for abstenance and scorned those who supported birth control, yet, privately, —- Well, — just this once!!!! You, the community, talked about those lazy welfare people and how the bible looks down on laziness. Yet, You would hire an affluent college student from a socioeconomic background similar to your own, as opposed to a person you supposed was “on welfare.” — and, that included myself. I could never find employment in that small town. This Hierarchy of values actually meant that those who were most accepted in the group were those who first and foremost, held similar political views. the values concerning individual living was largely left to the “individual.” I was looking for an “Acts” community. And, while I admit that no community is perfect, I found that noone really wanted to change, even if they saw where the Bible might mandate such a change. The other part of this reason is that “noone,” (at least as far as I know — with the exception of christ) has or will live the religion as purely as it has been defined in a Holy text. But, I found that many people were politically right wing, yet personally (and quite privately) they desired the exceptions that a more liberal approach would afford them. I also realized, much to my dismay that the more close knit a community seems to be, the more exclusive it also is. You can’t be “close” and “inclusive” at the same time because this “bond” relies on a shared value set — one that you would not have if you included most everyone. So, (although sometimes unspoken) there were definitely qualifications to be met for inclusion. And, at one time, I was willing to pay that price for belonging. For that time in my life, I was willing to sacrifice some of my own personal beliefs so that our family would be accepted in such a community.
(TO BE CONTINUED)

The ultimate sacrifice

January 10, 2011

In most relationships, sacrifice is inevitable.
To be successful at your job, , (beyond the normal employment duties) one might have to sacrifice their values, their beliefs, their integrity, or their location. To be a good mother, one must sacrifice their time, their energy and finances.
Sometimes we don’t want to sacrifice. Or, We want to dole out our sacrificed commodity. And, “what” is really considered a sacrifice? often, The thought of sacrificing is much more appealing than the reality of such an action. After all, we do tend to romanticize the situations that surround “sacrifice.” Usually when we imagine such sacrifices; the results are often favorable. Therefore, there is a silver lining to the sacrifice which makes the sacrifice worth the effort. And, there is a notion that there is a direct link between the size of the sacrifice and the desired accomplishment. “The only question to ask yourself is, how much are you willing to sacrifice to achieve this success?” —
Larry Flynt. “Dreams do come true, if we only wish hard enough, You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it,” — James M. Barrie And, romantically speaking, even when the sacrifice does not yield the desired results, the one who has sacrificed is deemed a martyr for —- Love … or freedom … or truth … or something. In this way, the efforts that have made up the whole of the sacrifice have been, in some way, redeeming.

In opposition to these romantic notions, counseling books everywhere (typically those that either have a very feminist bent or those exemplifying “reality therapy”) have dispelled the notion that a sacrifice is neither admirable or noble. Usually, these books talk about the sacrifices that women make and not the ones that men make. In fact, most literature says that “women sacrifice too much” and “men sacrifice too little,” – at least as far as relationships are concerned. “Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice! That’s the condition of the female. Women have been conditioned to sacrifice for centuries,”
Betty Dodson. Much of this literature debunks any honorable attitudes surrounding the act of sacrifice. After all, they claim, women have been sacrificing for men way too many times and, let’s face it, the men are neiter reciprocating the action nor are they greatful for such sacrifices (the customary words seem to fall short of conveying real feeling). There is also a notion that has cropped up in the last twenty or so years that we should get something for our sacrifice. And, women are told not to sacrifice too much for their children for these same reasons. There is an added reason for the children, however, it is simply because we want to set a good example. We want to show our daughters that they don’t have to sacrifice and should not do so for a man (especially) or their children. I Too, have fallen into the trap of warning my family members about “the act of sacrifice.” I am always telling my daughter that she should not sacrifice her interests – those things that she enjoys doing (Music, volleyball, basketball, exercising, and baking), for her relationship. This would make her less of “Dominika” and more of “Someone’s Girlfriend.” and, I do believe that I am right to caution her. It does seem that people go to extremes: either giving an unhealthy sacrifice or not sacrificing at all. Of course, there has to be a balance, but many times, I wonder if we are teaching selfishness and fostering an unhealthy attitude of entitlement in relationships.

Yet, when it comes to a job, people are encouraged to “be adventurous” “embrace the unknown.” Sacrificing for a job is (in most cases) seen as a good move. To Americans, sacrificing for money is appropriate, but sacrificing for family is not. I wonder if it is because money is valued much more than a husband or family. After all, marriage is not valued as it once was. People seem to give up too easily. Or, at the least, the partnership seems to be unbalanced. And, since your children will always be your children; regardless of how much or how little you sacrifice, most people see no point in doing so.
[climbing down from soap box to return to original topic]. {hmm, if I could only insert an image of a person falling from a very high ledge—smile}.

I have noticed that sometimes Desi men and women have to sacrifice their family bonds for their relationship. Sometimes, women give up their high paying promising careers (ones that they might have taken years to build) to stay home with the children. Do we ever look at the naked reality of Sacrifice? When we unearth sacrifice, do we ever actually consider the possibility that we might encounter a raw wound that might grow into a festering sore, if we are not diligent about its care?

I think of my friend, Susie.
http://www.susieofarabia@blogspot.com
[I read many interesting blogs and she is up for an award] she has moved to Saudi Arabia with her husband. Even when her son went back to the states to go to High School, (although she visits him I think about once a year) she has made her home in KSA. her husband does encourage her to go and visit her son and even stay as much as possible until he exits high school. But, when deciding to embark on such a trip, She probably received the same sort of advice that I give to my own daughter.
I know that there are lots of American women who have married men of foreign origin and have had to move to a land where they did not speak the language and found culture and customs unlike their own. I am not trivializing your experiences. I chose Susie because there were many factors that could have inhibited her sacrifice. Susie was not young when she moved. Sure, she was adventurous. But, she was not young. I imagine that she had laid down relationship and comfortable roots somewhere. I know that she had an older daughter that she left behind. This comes at a time in her life when she (or most women even close to her age – myself included) would value security and familiarity; over adventure, new beginnings and discovering new lands with new possibilities.
It is not just the friend and familial connections; although, this is no small sacrifice because she has gone to a place where it is very difficult to forge new connections due to linguistic and cultural barriers beyond her control. She has sacrificed some of her freedom. She has sacrificed her routines, her comfort food, [should we start a comfort food campaign for you Susie??], her interests, her comfort zone and her profession. I don’t know if she feels that her self confidence has been compromised. I don’t know how it would feel to only rely on your husband for those comforts that are typically given by a multitude of family and friends. And, I don’t know if her husband is willing or able to attempt to be her emotional and social lifeline. In short, there are many questions that could be asked of Susie. Did she weigh all of the positives and negatives before deciding to make the sacrifice? Or did she instinctively make the sacrifice out of duty or affection? How much of herself has she sacrificed for her marriage? what is the outcome from that sacrifice? And, Is the beneficiary of such a sacrifice appreciative or even fully aware of the scope of such a sacrifice? I have not asked her if she regrets her sacrifice or if she resents her husband? I have only wondered how many times she must “wander,” down the lane of “what if.” (with some shame, I must admit that) I probably would make that familiar trek all too often. [mental note: I am embarrassed to admit that I am so rigidly connected to *what* I want and not able to be flexible enough to trust in the fact that, if I allow it too, my sacrifice can yield great and unexpected joys].
Rather than delving into Susie’s particular situation, we can use Susie’s circumstances as a springboard to analyze our own questions about sacrifice and how it relates to our lives and relationships. When thinking about our own sacrifices, Here are some questions that we might want to ask ourselves. [Hey, feel free to add to the list].

1. Is there a difference between a gift and a sacrifice? and What have/ are you willing to sacrifice for your marriage or relationship? (money, time, health, energy, friends, freedom, family, interests, career, intellect, pride, ego, faith, …)? And, how much of these things are you willing to sacrifice?

2. What are you *not* willing to sacrifice and why? What fears are behind your unwillingness? Are they founded or unfounded? Do you only feel comfortable sacrificing when you can control the outcome? Has your spouse or family needed/wanted you to sacrifice something that you are unwilling to give up? Was it an appropriate or inappropriate request? Why?

3. What are the obvious and unintended consequences of sacrificing such things? Or, should we even analyze the negative aspect of our sacrificing? By making such an analysis, does it somehow ruin the heart behind the sacrifice?

4. Do you expect to get something for your sacrifice, if so, what? Even in relationships, we sometimes hope that our sacrifice might yield peace, happiness, gratitude, a more loving spouse, etc. Should we have this expectation?

5. When is a sacrifice unhealthy or “not ok?” And, can you make that decision for others?

6. Should you only make a sacrifice if you can do it willingly and/or if you believe that you will arbor no resentment regardless of the outcome? And, should you make the sacrifice only if you can do it cheerfully? “The sacrifice which causes sorrow to the doer of the sacrifice is no sacrifice. Real sacrifice lightens the mind of the doer and gives him a sense of peace and joy: The Buddha gave up the pleasures of life because they had become painful to him,” — Mahatma Gandhi. “Love is not a feeling of happiness. Love is a willingness to sacrifice,” —
Michael Novak

7. Can a sacrifice be conditional? Should a sacrifice be doled out and contracted like a business agreement? And, if so, What types of conditions would you impose … … and what happens if the condition has been breached. Sometimes the breach can leave the sacrifice feeling hollow. What happens then? Do you make a new agreement concerning the sacrifice? Does it make it a sacrifice if there are conditions attached?

8. Should you always talk about the sacrifice with the one you are sacrificing for so they understand the breadth and depth of your choice? In effect, should the one you are sacrificing for always be aware of and know the gravity of the sacrifice?

9. Is a sacrifice really a sacrifice if you continue to evaluate the results of such a sacrifice to determine whether it was worth it or not?

10. Can you retract a sacrifice? If so, what are the conditions surrounding sacrificial retractions? ?

No, Imran and I are not moving to Pakistan and no, he has not overtly or covertly asked me to sacrifice anything important. Hmmm, it occurs to me that I just assumed that you would suspect from this post that I was being asked to sacrifice instead of the possibility that I am asking Imran to sacrifice. In any case, we have and are not going through such a trauma. Yet, in evaluating myself, I realize that I can be quite rigid and like the idea that “I certainly would sacrifice my routine and/or comfort level and/or dreams/thoughts about the way things should go,” much more than the reality of such a sacrifice. I also realize that Imran, in most situations, is much more open and flexible to such possibilities. I am a bit hesitant to say that I “HOPE TO WORK ON THIS,” because, the only way to truly develop a skill or habit or characteristic is to practice it often. I am much more inclined to analyze and discuss than to “practice.” (smile)