Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Learning to act right (46)… Being radicalised, not
Torrey Orton
Jan. 14, 2015

Being radicalised is one of numerous fears du jour in our increasingly fearful age. Seems there’s a bunch of radicalisers all around us looking for candidates to join radical groupings – but, only one matters: the “Islamic” ones. There are other fundamentalist groupings of our own design which seek to attract people to fringe realms of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and usually more than one per major religion. And in the background are “cults” springing off the fringes of the majors like the Children of God, the Elect Brethren, the ultra-orthodox Haredi, the Wahhabi, and so on. These are mostly devoted to hiding their lights under bushels, but come out bristling, especially when confronted with reality slights to their world views. Even Buddhists and Hindus have a go in this space, just not around our corners.

The signs of our fearful age are numerous, too, ranging from the creeping growth of self-esteem protective child management preoccupations, and on…

to the “limbs may fall” self-protection of local government domains,

to the ease with which governments of the ‘left’ and ‘right’ made the anxious white folks of the best country in the world fearful of dark demons arriving on boats 25 years ago, and continue to poke that fear to this day,

to the wilful obscuring of budget responsibilities by both major parties through the current period of mining fired wealth,

to the fact that radical sects and single-minded sectarians here have been springing into prominence well beyond their numbers precisely because they dare to behave inappropriately,

to the relentless erosion of basic securities – most notably job security in any form as the portfolio life fantasy is imposed on people without the preconditions of education or awareness or opportunity which make carrying one’s life in a bag remotely possible … all done in the name of “the economy”, a sure fire title for a scam masquerading as a scientific certainty, and

to the global threats before us constantly:

o   Climate change

o   Financial system vulnerabilities,

o   Ebola, and other natural disasters,

o   International political system instabilities,

o   The prevalence of the open big data minding of all our businesses, and the increasing likelihood that our privacy is irretrievably compromised by the very information science which we treasure for its detail and connectedness,

o   And the recurrent fact of the corruptibility of major social institutions of all kinds everywhere, at minimal cost to the perps!!

The similarities between the fundamentalists and financial product spruikers should not be avoided. Both behave with certainty to the point of obscuring the clearly illegal to protect their ‘brand’ (Hillsong, oh Hillsong and CommBank and ANZ…). One recent ‘community’ expression of fear is the election of minority governments to the mindless despair of the old major parties and their attached pundits. Compulsory voting shall not protect us from the emerging expressions of hopeless disengagement from the foundations of democracy.

Now, a person cannot be radicalised in any application of the term without a need for ‘radical’ solutions. Hence, for example, there is an endless market for radical solutions to health problems, silver bullets for ageing bodies. And our free speech democracy supports the proliferation of medical scams, just as it does financial ones. Advertising it’s called.

And for every religion there is a radical fringe which increasingly grasps the nice peoples’ ground in the middle with threats of embarrassing them for being unfaithful, weak livered and in any event unfilial for implying in any way that they, the radical, aren’t really members of the family, or, more, spiritually profligate but undisownable children thereof.

We all have origins in black and white processes, or more calmly, the life cycle which by not a few actually is fudged in being so described because it is the life and death cycle through which we pass with varying degrees of impact. The use of ‘pass’ for ‘die’ is one small instance of the deep desire in our culture to airbrush or hush away the realities of our being: namely, once dead we are done. Medical science persistently grinds away at the leading and following boundaries of this certainty, adding to the fear by deconstructing the foundations of faith through requiring reallocations of belief.

Existential anxiety is normal for conscious beings. However, the contexts sketched above aggravate this enormously because they compromise our sense of being able to act effectively in the areas of living we think we should be able to. Hopeless anxiety is usually described as depression if it gathers enough negative steam to power us down into the dark night of the soul. Lack of hope can be glossed as shortage of meaning. Depression is the source of radical action: whether inaction of over action, heading in the direction of death. Persistent depression (that is, inescapable meaninglessness) induces persistent rage. Now that’s a radicalising feeling with only two directions of expression: at oneself or at perceived others who make life meaningless for us. But the latter are hard to find except in the most stereotyped forms; other identities like ethnicities, races, religions, social statuses….I can populate my own world of perceived meaning destroyers. Problem is, they are also someone else’s meaning makers and sustainers!!! It is only this which keeps my radicalising in the box.



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