Patterns – how fascinating they can be! For some of us, patterns can become obsessive…and I am no exception. If I examine a piece of clothing, I’ll be able to reproduce its pattern. I can accurately draw the floor plan (pattern) of every single building I’ve ever been in (at least, the areas I saw). I love visual puzzles. But, observing social interactions – human or animal – has always been my favorite venue for observing patterns.
One very important aspect of human behavioural patterns is that we tend to bundle ideas together. It seems so very natural to us, we don’t really even think about it. Yet, we inevitably do bundle ideas together without even being aware of it. It couldd be as simple as ‘connotations’, at other times the ‘bundling process’ is more complex.
This is a handy way for us to ‘categorize’ things, help us make sense of all the ‘stuff’ out there. And that is good. As long as we remember that we are doing it. Because if we are not careful, we can end up rejecting very good ideas (or accepting very bad ones), just because someone (innocently or manipulatively) has managed to bundle them with a whole other set of ideas that are quite unrelated, yet which will colour our perception of the whole ‘bundle’.
Perhaps I am not being very clear … an example or two might help illustrate. One time, while buying shampoo, my (at that time) four-year-old son told me I should buy a particular brand. When I asked why, wondering if he liked the smell or something, he answered: “Because you’re worth it, Mom!”… this was the catch-line of that brand’s latest ad campaign….
Ads are one of the most familiar ways ideas are intentionally bundled: if the advertising campaign can successfully link a product with an image which is desiarable within the target audience, the sales of this product will be higher than should the campaign have only presented factual information on the product. This works with positive as well as negative advertising.
Most of us are wary of the manipulation of idea-bundling by advertizers, but there are so many other areas in which we are bombarded by these idea bundles, yet where we are much less sophisticated at detecting them. Still, they occurr all around us.
So, what does one do when society ‘bundles ideas’ in a way that does not line up with one’s own ‘bundles’?
Perhaps the most obvious example is in the world of politics. The more ‘right of centre’ one’s fiscal and social ideas are, the more one is presumed to be ardently Christian. The more ‘left of centre’ one’s fiscal and social ideas are, the less ‘religiously Christian’ their ideas are presumed to be. Perhaps, in the past, this might have ‘sort-of’ been so.
This ‘bundling’ of ideas on the political scene really does not account for the emerging trends within our society. Two of these many ’emerging trends’ are ‘non-religious conservatives’, the other are ‘very religious non-Christians’. These are just two off several of the fast growing segments of our population that simply do not ‘fit’ the political ‘idea-bundles’.
It is extremely difficult for non-religious (or, the also emerging anti-religious) conservatives to find a place in our society. These people are extremely uncomfortable with the religious right, and their motivations for many policies. Yet, they see the folly of the social and fiscal policies of the liberal (or, perhaps more accurately called, anti-liberty) left.
On the other hand, the ‘religious right’ perceive this new and growing segment on their end of the political spectrum with suspicion, not considering them to be ‘real’ conservatives )and being very vocal about this). Perhaps that is how people like George Bush Jr., whose fiscal policies are anything but conservative, yet who is a Christian fundamentalist, can be perceived as somehow more ‘conservative’ than a fiscal conservative libretarian who is not shackled by religious dogma. I’m not making a judgment here, simply observing a pattern!
Similarly, many very religious non-Christian immigrants are finding an uncomfortable ‘political home’ on the left side of the spectrum. Not hung up on the historical division between the religious right and the communist (and atheist) left, they appreciate the benfits they receive from social programs instituted by ‘left’. Among a small segment of them, there is also a very real fear (justified or not) of both the ‘religious right’ and the ‘libretarian right’.
This is the dilemma that was, to some degree, faced by the Jewish populations in ‘the West’ following WWII. As Barbara Amiel (yes, Lady Black is Jewish) had explained in her writings, following WWII, many Jewish people were, rightly or wrongly, wary of anything that was deemed ‘right wing’ – and threw their support behind the ‘humanist left’, whatever the costs. An unesy arrangement, at best.
So, with the growth of non-Christian religious vote, are we going to see a re-alignment of the current political parties? Will the ‘consrevatives’ come to represent non-religious, fiscally conservative libretarians, while the ‘religious vote’ will flock to the ‘liberal/socialist’ vote? Or will we see a fragmentation of the traditional parties, into the ‘four corners’: ‘religious right’, ‘religious left’, ‘non-religious right’ and ‘non-religious left’?
And if we do, how will the different faiths within one movement come to terms with each other?