OPINION: Help to heal our world: conquer fanaticism
COMMENT: WHAT I most love about my country is our general lack of fanaticism - a startling contrast to recent high-profile instances of it here and elsewhere.
I started thinking about this subject before the terrorism events in Paris, but those events have made dealing with fanatical thinking seem even more imperative.
A fanatic expresses excessive, irrational zeal.
Far from taking an intelligent and well-informed stance on an issue, their passion and manic obsession with a cause or way of doing things colour their decision-making ability negatively.
Fanaticism about a political or religious philosophy that makes us feel superior; holding obsessively to a non-proven hypothesis; belief that there is only one way to play football and there's a single worthy team; prejudice about what foods we should eat and the best way to cultivate them; or uncompromising belief that we only need to attend to the physical body to be healthy, are all too common habits that lead us down a slippery slope of intolerance.
Fanatical beliefs are nearly always built on fear.
A red flag should go up if we find ourselves extremely sensitive about our viewpoint or hating anyone who opposes it.
Alternatively, common sense based on a positive stance, sure of a solution becoming apparent that will be good for everyone, is a better viewpoint.
This demeanour is not just a good-old Aussie "she'll be right" attitude, but grows out of a well-informed and caring approach to the world.
This is a spiritual approach that begins with ourselves - that is, feeling and accepting the love that comes from our divine source. It's so much easier to love, when we're feeling loved.
What will help the world through this current fermentation is our individual commitment to choosing love and understanding over hate and apathy.
I find it's useful to ask myself: could I be a little more thoughtful and kinder with my comments? I'd have to confess that the answer is usually, "well, maybe."
Try this scenario. If you could go back in time, would you choose to continually belittle our ancestors' beliefs about a flat earth?
Wouldn't you instead gently nurture and point out bridges of understanding to help them comprehend the reality?
American Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute was interviewed about possible motives for the killings at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Married to a Christian, Mr Ahmad holds a unique perspective on cross-cultural understanding (or misunderstandings) between Muslims and non-Muslims.
He pointed out, "…it is one thing to make a joke about a rich man or a powerful man who slips and falls. It is something entirely different and not funny to make a joke about your poor old grandmother slipping and falling.
"To the Muslim people, jokes and cartoons about the faith of an oppressed people are not funny. They hurt."
We all know how humiliation hurts, and most of us at some time have been down the road of wanting to lash out at a perceived enemy.
So, if we can empathise, we can forgive and work towards healing our world.
Academics and experienced change-managers in the field of terrorism psychology are stepping forward this week to share with the world some common patterns for success in de-radicalising regimes and terrorists.
Surprisingly, these don't include retribution but active, solution-based change-management, such as recognising the needs of jihadists; finding them vocational education, jobs and even wives; and, recognizing the importance of their social network (http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/11/05/the-3-step-guide-to-de-radicalizing-jihadists/)
Whether or not you have a direct hand in these compassionate measures, you can begin to make a difference in the health of our wonderfully promising world by de-radicalising your own thinking.
Utilise this good advice to start the healing movement within your own circle:
• "Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last…
• If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget…
• Never return evil for evil;
• and, above all, do not fancy that you have been wronged when you have not been."
(Mary Baker Eddy)
None of us have all the answers to the world's problems right now, but today you can at least be a law to yourself to give up any fanatical beliefs you may be harbouring. This self-regulating action is also good for your stress levels, heart, immune system and much more.
Kay Stroud is a regular contributor on the link between consciousness, spirituality and health. For more information on these trends or answers to questions about Christian Science visit www.health4thinkers.com