Fundamentalism starves the mind

Fundamentalism starves the mind. It reduces and narrows a universe of dazzlingly fascinating complexity available for infinite exploration — and deprives millions of people throughout the ages of the limitless gifts of curiosity.

The faux finality of fundamentalism is a kind of death wish — a closing off of pathways to possibility that are lost to those human minds forever. It’s a closing of the doors of perception and a welding shut of the very openings that give life its deepest meaning.

It is tragic — a truly heartbreaking process of grooming and indoctrination into a poisonous worldview; the trapping of untold minds in airless, sunless rooms of inert stagnation for an eternity. What’s worse — those claustrophobic minds aim to drag others in with them — perhaps to ease the unbearable loneliness of being surrounded only by similitude.

They are threatened by the appearance of others outside the totalist system that entraps them — and cannot countenance the evidence of roiling change that everywhere acts as a foil to their mass-induced delusions of finality. It gnaws at the edges of the certainty that functions to prop them up against a miraculous yet sometimes terrifying world of ultimate unknowability.

Fundamentalism is an ending

In a reality that is infinitely beginning, fundamentalism seeks to grab control and put a stop to all this dynamicity. Life itself is an undeniably dynamic force; it is death that is inert. It is death that offers a macabre kind of certainty that life can never provide. To some, there is a conscious or unconscious comfort in the idea of grasping at some kind of certainty. For the most part, they know not what they do.

The Christian nationalists seek an ending to American democracy — and some unabashedly seek the End Times as a method of punishing their enemies and of leaving behind the messy reality of this reality for the ever-dangled glorious afterlife. The Nazis sought the ending of all non-Aryan civilizations — again, in pursuit of dubious promises about 1000 years of utopia supposedly to follow.

The trick of dangling the utopia that theoretically follows destruction leads many fundamentalist lemmings towards the cliff’s edge — and it works in large part due to the impoverishment of the minds of the here and now. Fundamentalism fashions minds that hate the present, because they are made to shut out all that is wonderful and worth beholding in a complex world of both promise and peril.

Openness is the way out

In the great war of art, the timeless struggle of the artist vs. the fundamentalist plays out again and again through the ages. The artist’s vision of possible things that have not yet been brought to pass is the antidote to closed-mindedness; it offers a way out of the sad conviction that all worth knowing is already known. Creativity is a kind of openness, to new ways of thinking, seeing, and being — a type of sunny optimism that can bring light to the darkest of places.

The scientific method is a process of asking a series of open questions — each answer provisional, with the purpose of querying still further. Knowledge is a voyage into the unknown, and an endless journey of being open to new paradigms.

Democracy too is a framework of openness — to the idea that humans are fundamentally equal, and that we deserve a say in the systems that govern us. It is a set of political ideals that acknowledges the unceasing shifts in culture, economics, psychology, and all else. Democracy provides mechanisms for meeting change with change — for evolving as we evolve.

Fundamentalism, on the other hand, is a dead end. It offers no solutions to new problems — for it absurdly and stubbornly denies the existence of newness altogether. It offers no help to what ails us. It offers no practical future — only an invented and insecure sense of feeling final. Fundamentalism is a fundamentally false idol — one we should reject, for fundamentally improved mental, cultural, and political health.

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