Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Danger of Absolutist Thinking

Ok. Last post I talked about absolutist thinking. In the following days I found 2 examples (unfortunately, both were religion/God-based) that set me off and have me writing trying to explain why Absolutist thinking can be a bad and potentially (very) dangerous thing.

First example: I was getting the oil changed in my car. In the waiting room I heard an ad on the tv that said something like, "The only real way to effect change in your life is to accept God's will for you. Contact Pastor Blah Blah Blah to learn how." Oh really! The only way to make change in my life. Well, that's nice for Pastor Blah Blah Blah. He can make money because through him, I can access God, and that's the only way to create change in my life.
Huh. Turning away from trying to live out God's will for me has actually been the largest change factor in my life.

Second example (later that same morning): I read an article in my local paper where they were talking up this new program called "Every Man's Battle for Purity". I guess I was put off more by the picture they used and how they wrote about the issue.

The picture is of a military camoflauge colored T-shirt (with a dog tag, to entice you to join their boot camp). On it, under the words "Every Man's Battle for Purity" is the phrase "Live Pure or Die".

Ok. I about puked when I read that. Not really, but I seriously swallowed hard and maybe almost choked. Maybe it's a gut reaction from growing up having thoughts like that repeated so often that I accepted them as truth. But, HELL!!! Live pure, or DIE??? Who defines "pure"? It sounds like one of those words with an absolutist ring to it: Pure--either you are or you aren't. If you aren't--well, I guess you might as well kill yourself. This is Shit! Sorry to be so blunt--but I've heard such things growing up Mormon. 'It's better to die than to lose your virtue.' I'm waking up and realizing that we live in a very TOXIC society that keeps sending out very mixed messages that are absolutist in tone, and are very unforgiving and brutle.

I'm not saying there can't be a time, place, target audience and purpose for this. I am not in favor of pornography, and I know there are millions of guys addicted to it. I guess part of why I was upset reading the article was that it didn't mention numbers, or the cost socially, financially, etc. that "impurity" causes our society. It was written based on a lot of assumptions that I guess the author assumed were widespread.

I also don't like the fact that it's a military theme. They need to use the term "battle" because then it sounds important, like there is a victory to be achieved. Purity (as I understood the article), meant sexual purity. I don't think sexual purity is an "achievement" or victory. It is something you deal with and face your whole life. And I also don't like the fact that "all men" (Every man's battle) need to be included in this war. Some men don't have this problem.

Don't we have enough wars going on? Maybe this is what that scripture was talking about "there would be wars and rumours of wars". Please. When are we going to hear some healthy (i.e non-absolutist, non-judgemental) messages in our society, especially about sex?

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