All doctrinaire thinking is dangerous

By Fr Michael Commane

Published 02/04/2016 | 00:00

michael commane
michael commane

Anyone who calls someone a 'wishy-washy' liberal does so with every intention of insulting the person.

It's an attempt at saying that the person stands for nothing, has no definite beliefs or principals. It is always said with derogatory intent.

Last Tuesday I spotted a reference to a speech that US Republican front-runner presidential candidate Donald Trump gave to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. I listened to it in-full on YouTube. What I have seen and heard of Trump up to now has been scary. The world and its mother is talking about the man and how preposterous it would be to elect this man president of the most powerful country in the world. It appears that his chances of ending up in the White House have been ratcheted up.

His speech to AIPAC was a moment in time. He read it from a teleprompter, so it was not a matter of he talking off the top of his head. It was a well-planned speech. He spoke for 23 minutes, pandering to the crowd, who were roaring and screaming in praise of what he was saying. Every word of his speech was hate-filled. Trump was looking for the Jewish vote and in doing so, was spitting out words of hate for everyone whom he sees as opposed to Israel. He also spoke most disparagingly about President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Listening to the speech I felt my bias towards the man was influencing how I was reacting. I could not believe my ears to what I was hearing. I strongly recommend you listen to it and watch the man.

We are living in scary times. Last week we had Brussels. Every day misery and suffering is being inflicted on Syrians. Trouble in Ukraine continues to simmer. And all the perpetrators of hatred and violence, all those who scream from the rooftops are certain in their views and opinions. The last thing any of these people is is a 'wishy-washy' liberal. When did a 'wishy-washy' liberal cause mayhem and savagery?

All sorts of doctrinaire thinking is dangerous. And the same applies within religions. Once people stand up on their high horses, claiming they are going to save the world and correct all the wrong that has been allowed to creep in, then it's time to batten down the hatches. It's easy to think that 'fundamentalism' is some sort of disease that afflicts other peoples and religions. It would seem that there is some sort of 'thing' imprinted deep down in our DNA that can be triggered into action when we find ourselves in particular situations. And it occurs right across the spectrum of all reality. No religion, no race, no culture, no people, no time in history is exempt.

We have been silly enough to look back at Nazi Germany and that 'other man' and wonder how such a thing could happen. Or we look at the evil of the Inquisition and wonder why. What are we doing to stop it happening right now? I for one, would much prefer to be a 'wish-washy' liberal than some sort of principled fanatic, who is willing to go to any lengths to reach the 'promised land'. Unfortunately a 'wishy-washy' liberal is no match for a Bible-thumping fundamentalist. I've seen too much hurt and savagery.

AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus has apologised for Trump's speech. Chemi Shalev, correspondent for Israel's Haaretz, left the Trump speech in shock and asked how fellow Jews could have applauded his speech.

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