Fundamentalism refers to a belief in a strict adherence to a set of basic principles (often religious in nature), sometimes as a reaction to perceived doctrinal compromises with modern social and political life.
Generally we, the modern & open minded population will consider Fundamentalism to be an ignorant concept, as it has strong ties with Fundamentalist Christians who believe, literally, that the Earth is 10,000 years old and Dinosaurs and Humans lived in the same era, and that Israel was put back in place by God’s will rather than by war-mongering political discourse, and that the reason to live a good life is so you can enter heaven upon your death. I am in Vancouver, Canada – a modern minded block of North America that is probably the most liberal-minded, open-minded and also most left-wing in all of North America.
Basic principles provide a solid ground on which to build other concepts on, and it seems that many people find it necessary to stick with some sort of principles in their lives. It makes us feel solid, safe, and driven. It gives us a sense of stability and direction to have a certain set of principles. As a matter of fact, having a set of principles is glorified in our culture. Movies portray a strong sense of principle. Jamie Foxx looks like such a tough guy when he says “I don’t negotiate with murders.” in the movie, “Law Abiding Citizen”. So sure, our culture likes a sense of principles, and they often do provide us with good direction.
I’d like to shed a new light on Fundamentalism. Fundamentalism, by its definition, has nothing to do with religion. It’s often associated with it, however, because people with strong religious beliefs will often exhibit traits of a Fundamentalist where nothing that crosses their fundamental beliefs is acceptable. Take, for example, the case of a 6 year old girl who was raped and impregnated in Africa. Medical advice suggested that she should have an abortion, as it can be deadly for a 6 year old girl to deliver. Financial and moral advice also suggested that a 6 year old becoming a mother is probably not the best thing. Fundamentalists, however, argued that since it is God’s child, and it is a life, it should be preserved, and if the 6 year old dies in the course of birth, it is also God’s will. Now, at this point, if you believe that the Fundamentalists were right, and the 6 year old should have kept and attempted delivery of the child, you can leave my website right now. Or you can stay and think and learn new ways to think. My point today is that Christian or Muslim Fundamentalism isn’t the only Fundamentalism we deal with in this modern day.
Another form of Fundamentalism that I believe to be a strong deterrent to the human civilization moving forward is Political Fundamentalism. Political Fundamentalism is what stops our laws and regulations from moving forward in a fast-changing era where the market and industry are rapidly expanding changing and growing. The private sector is able to move forward with these changes at breakneck speed, yet the governmental bodies are not able to catch up with them, at the dismay of the public.
Take the case of the financial crash for example. The financial crash of 2008 caused a lot of damage. Trillions of dollars in stock value wiped out, 401Ks and RRSPs reduced by significant portions, foreclosures, consumer and business bankruptcies, currency fluctuation… it was a mess. It destroyed the finances of many American and Canadian families, put them in distress. Property owners who once lived aloft a bubble of low rates and rising property value were brought back to earth (or beneath) with rising mortgage rates and reducing equity. The system was broken. Some argue it was intentionally done by the guys at the very top – after all, with government bailouts and foreclosure winnings, the pain of the people do not matter for the Wall Street executives. Some argue it was just simple greed that got out of control as more and more people bought on extended credit that they did not deserve or could afford. The cause of it is irrelevant. What we know now is what we need to do in order to prevent it from happening again (as if we did not learn this on Black Friday). Control debt-to-equity ratio, don’t give out sub-prime mortgages to unqualified customers, control consumer debt, and make more things available on cash rather than credit. Control which banks control which sectors so that there is a more evenly spread responsibility and risk exposure, and carefully control the interest rates and thus control inflation. All of this seems straightforward for the logical-thinking person. But… we have the fundamentalists. They argue that it’s not constitutional. They call it “Socialism” (as if they’ve even seen the glimpses of a real socialist country), they slam it because it’s against the Laissez-Faire principle of free-market economy dictated only by supply and demand with minimal government intervention. The regulations to them symbolize USA turning in to China. But let’s look at the logical realities. The financial market as well as the world of currencies, bonds, mortgages, stocks etc. are now much too large and much too complex that it’s not something for the everyday man to have an influence on, or an understanding on. Here I can sit and analyze how and why the system failed, but do you think I saw this all coming? Hell no. I was swept in the same optimism that everybody was drowning in until the time of reckoning in 2008. And yet can we still argue that this behemoth (and a cobweb) of an industry should still be at the mercy of the market forces? It’s far too large and far too complex, that the few select individuals at the top of the chain can yank things in any direction they choose, at the cost of the average American and Canadian suffering from it later. By all logics and reason, we need more regulation in that department – but the Fundamentalists say no based on a simple principle.
Let’s also look at Legal Fundamentalism. Take, for example, a drug bust. There was a case in Canada not too long ago where the RCMP collected evidence against a large crime ring and brought them to court with numerous charges, enough to put them away for a very long time. But because of some legal complications of how and why the evidence was collected, the case was thrown out of court. It had to do with the wiretap warrant not having sufficient grounds of being issued, despite the fact that the wiretap revealed the evidence needed. There were also cases of search warrants that were issued on shaky grounds. So basically, despite the fact that all the evidence was found, because of the methodology of the evidence being found, that part had to be thrown out of court. With the evidences annulled, the jury had no choice to acquit the suspects. A reasonable man will say “But.. the evidence did prove that they were dealing cocaine and that they were breaking the law. We’re letting people go because of some legal semantics and complications? If the wiretap and search turns up the right evidence, who cares how it was obtained? If it was a warrant given on a hunch, it was a damn good hunch! Put them away!” Alas, that is not the case, thanks to the Fundamentalists. They argue that, because of the principles involved, a wrongfully gathered evidence should not be considered. That is the law in place in Canada at the moment. And I can understand the reasoning for such law being in existence. I suppose if the police can search anybody, tap into any phoneline, it could create a state of abuse by the authorities where they excessively reach without limit or results. Fine, so let’s keep that law in place. I can live with that. But shouldn’t there be reasonable flexibility in the judicial system where if the evidence that was turned up is overwhelming, and the method of evidence collection cannot have influenced the evidence itself, that evidence should be admissible? Essentially we are letting criminals go based on some civil rights fundamentals. Is it more important to withhold some principles on a piece of paper than to put criminals away for good? I don’t think so. But these reasons are exactly why that in Canada, with a decent lawyer and a police squad on handcuffs, murderers and traffickers can often get away with a very light sentence. A little less Fundamentalism bullshit, and a little more practical logic please.
There are so many cases in this day that we live in where the fundamental principles that we try to uphold often get in the way of doing the right thing, creating the right system, or serving justice. Some of those principles are there for basic protection and I’m not denying that – we do need them, just like how we need the Charter of Rights. But let’s face it – there are cases where the fundamentals do not apply, and the principles need to be bent in order to bring practicality and logic to the table. Let’s make more sense out of our world, not more dictionaries and rules.