I’m a Fundamentalist

By jer979!! | | 22 Jun 2020

tl:dr; My outlook is not as rational or balanced as I thought. Neither is yours. Awareness of both is good. Affecting change is only possible by one of us.

My father and I were chatting about current events.

He had expressed curiosity about whether we are in “living in revolutionary times.”

Some of his friends and he had been reacting to the fact that many of the values which had been inculcated into them as children (i.e. respect for the flag, respect for police, a deep appreciation of America’s special gifts) were now coming into serious question.

So much was changing.

“80 years ago, we were trying to kill Germans,” I said. “Now, people are upset that we’re downgrading an alliance with them.”

The vicissitudes of life had been in my head that day as I am reading Pema Chödrön’s book, Practicing Peace in Times of War.

She writes:

“…the people who we get so upset at, they eventually move away or die. And likewise with nations that fight each other, time passes and either that nations no longer exist or they shift alliances and enemies becomes allies.


Practicing Peace in Times of War.

Any student of European history knows that alliances change constantly.

Adapting to new situations and new contexts comes only through a change of heart.

That’s the hard part.

“As long as we justify our own hard-heartedness and our own self-righteousness, joy and peace will always elude us. We point our fingers at the wrongdoers, but we ourselves are mirror images; everyone is outraged at everyone else’ wrongness.

Practicing Peace in Times of War.

We don’t need to look very far these days to see this type of behavior. Chödrön reminds us that seeing this type of behavior is actually much closer than each of us would like to admit.

It’s right there in front of us, in the mirror staring back at us.

“We become expert at perfecting our habits of hard-heartedness, our own particular brand of rigid heard and closed mind.”

Practicing Peace in Times of War

When I read that, I realized, “yep, I’m part of the problem.”

I’m just as guilty as everyone else of being rigid and hard-hearted on things ranging from geopolitics to crypto to how much TV my kids should watch (less).

On many of them, I am very resistant to change. I justify these based on my “vast experience” or “wisdom” or certain worldviews based on class, gender, religion, etc.

There’s a joke in DC political circles, “everyone to the left of me is a fiery liberal and everyone to the right of me is anachronistic conservative.”

The reality is that I am as fundamentalist as the most ardent Bernie or Trump supporter, probably as much as a member of ISIS. It’s just that we’re fundamentalists about different things.

Recognizing that I am a fundamentalist is the first step.

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