By: Manuel A. Rodríguez Yong
I would like to talk to you about a topic that is quite rough, and which on many occasions has been talked about a lot, perhaps not enough, or perhaps it has not been possible for a topic like this to reach various sectors of the population. I think that talking about fundamentalism in the midst of this context that we are experiencing and when we also talk about diversity in all senses and above all in terms of sexual diversity, I think it is important to address it. Perhaps many people have heard about this term and don’t have a clear notion of what it is.
Fundamentalism is the name given to an ideological, religious or political current that promotes the literal interpretation of its texts and that interpretation even goes beyond a contextual interpretation, whether it is because of an intransigent or too strict position of that doctrine or established practice, so fundamentalism considers a certain book as the maximum authority before which no word or authority can revoke it. Even fundamentalists consider that the authority of that book or books is so great that it should be imposed above the laws of any democratic society.
When we speak of fundamentalisms I think there are several words that come directly to mind: intransigence, intolerance, imposition. I know that many may wonder where fundamentalism comes from, what its root is. Historically, it can be looked up and is within the reach of everyone, but some time ago, listening to Father Jorge Cela, a Cuban Jesuit priest, he spoke of how the root of a current like this is found in the fear it causes in any society or any sector of it. And this is extremely interesting because, as the root is essentially fear, what emerges from this fear is intolerance. When you are afraid, when you feel insecure, you look for a rock to hold on to, something where you can build those fundamentalisms, those absolute truths that can justify any action. Starting then from that root, from that attitude of profound insecurity that Father Cela affirms and that arises from fear. Therefore, if that is the root that produces insecurity and intolerance, then whoever suffers from it can result in someone easily manipulated.
Fundamentalism is an intolerance of what others think. It comes from that fear produced by great insecurity. If we go to the roots of fundamentalism we see that, although it is almost always associated with religion, in reality it has more to do with power than with religion itself because insecurity often comes from the lack of power, from the feeling of lack of power and also from the search for power. But why does it relate so much to religion? Well, it is not a coincidence or a manipulation. It is because it is born from the need to make sacred the truths that give us so much security. So that movement of sacralization of the truths of the insecure individual produces a security that gives him strength to assert it against all odds. That is why fundamentalisms, born from these insecurities and fears, tend to sacralize the attitudes and truths that are often defended, and that is what we have that is easily manipulated and rationalized with religion.
In the modern world there are many reasons for attitudes of insecurity, apart from the personal or psychological insecurity that we all have and which often increases with the life experiences that each one has had, but which is an experience that perhaps we have all experienced at some time and that is insecurity before life. Therefore, it is a search for security that provokes war. If we think about history we can go back to the crusades until more recent times with Islamic fundamentalist movements and terrorist acts that have been provoked by those religious fundamentalisms.
The entrance to modernity put many religions in check because many of them perhaps felt persecuted, insecure and therefore looked for certainties that were translated into more dogmatic attitudes, more related to the practice of rites, of authoritarianisms to look for those certainties that they felt they were losing. But something transcendental is happening, and it is so not only for the Catholic Church, but for the history of humanity itself and for the relationship of faith with society and the world. Not an attitude of defense and the search for security, but an attitude of dialogue, of openness, of losing the fear of what is different and assuming that process of what is different. This is something that without a doubt totally changed the life of the Church at that time and that still continues to be very much in force. There are many things about the council that continue to be promoted from within the church and from the attitude of various pontiffs throughout these years.
Looking at it in that way, the church realized that there are two ways of relating to the other, two ways of considering one’s own identity and that it starts from feeling that the other is what I am not or feeling that the other is someone who is in relationship with me and there one could ask oneself talking about that identity: is it the relationship of the other or is it the relationship with the other. These would be two ways of looking at this identity, but how do we look at ours? Is our identity marked by the rejection of the other, the rejection of what is different, of what I am not capable of understanding or perceiving as true, or is it marked by an attitude of dialogue, of trying to understand, of trying to interiorize and discover the diversity and authenticity that exists in the other? These are two ways of positioning ourselves before life and before the things that happen to us and that will define our attitude before life and the context where we develop.
The other thing that comes along with this is the construction of self-esteem, which gives us security as people, as a people, as a social group and helps us to face the fears that fundamentalisms provoke. Therefore, self-esteem, which is related to the fact that I am not worth anything because of what someone else considers me to be, but rather because of what I really am, the development of a culture of trust and solidarity, is something that is created from childhood, which arises from feeling loved, safe, in a family environment. That is why the family plays an important and fundamental role in the social being that is under its responsibility and that in part its future will depend on those attitudes, on those ways that from the house it is educated. This is essential for the future of a nation that must be flooded with good men and women. Are all those elements that are pedagogical, cultural, in some cases also religious, ideological, building cultures more prone to fundamentalism or more open when it comes to facing the dangers of fundamentalism?
These are some of the things that I have been thinking about and that I wanted to share with you because without a doubt we often lose sight of the fact that we live in a secular state, in a state of law where the state must respond to the needs, to the requests of all sectors of the population, no matter how minority it may be. Whether it is of one religion or another, with one sexual identity or another, with one color of skin or another, without a doubt the state has to respond to each of the rights and needs of all population groups, no matter how much they disagree with something that is being proposed, but we cannot lose sight of the notion as a country. We gain nothing by imposing what we think, what we believe, on others, on the contrary. Impositions almost always provoke rejection, even many times we can agree with some things they try to impose on us and the psychological attitude almost always is to reject the one who is trying to colonize my thinking or is trying to colonize my attitudes or judging how I am, how I feel or how I want to be.
We must keep in mind that my freedom ends where the other’s begins. Today, these attitudes of dialogue, of openness, are increasingly necessary for the construction of the country we want, which every day has to remain sedimented by love, because I believe that many of the attitudes we encounter on various occasions and which go hand in hand with certain fundamentalist currents or certain religions which have a strong fundamentalist charge, lose the notion of love. If we thought from love, if we acted from love, we would judge less, love more and try to understand many more things. We would be more tolerant and that’s what I think is sadly lacking today for many Christian brothers who are not able to accept differences, are not able to say you are not like me, but you don’t have to be, because if there is something rich in creation is that God has made us all very diverse. Let’s hope that the future of this country is one of good men and women in which we all have a place. A country with all, for all and for the good of all.