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tales from the woods

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The real Opus Dei

I came across a nice article in Newsweek about the real Opus Dei, as opposed to Dan Brown's dramatized version of this organization. Very often, we tend to throw the baby along with the bathwater when it comes to secretive cults like the Opus Dei, the Freemasons, or the Osho movement. However, there's a lot to be learnt from the basic philosophies of these groups, due to which they attract members in such large numbers. For example:-

So there's no "Opus Dei plan," as some speculate, to infiltrate the European Parliament in Brussels?
Based on my experience, moving around in this world, I just don't think it works like that. I just don't think there's an Opus Dei plan for European politics or anything else. I think there's a sociological reality, that the kind of people attracted to Opus Dei tend to be extremely hard working, tend to be pretty smart and pretty talented, and tend to be conservative, theologically and politically. Put these together and it's no surprise.

Why is work so important to them?
The prime directive of Opus Dei is the sanctification of work … they’ll use that work as a means of redeeming the world, bringing a distinctively Christian approach to law or politics. Part of what that means in their approach to things is a real emphasis on meeting the highest standards of excellence in whatever occupation they’re in because you can’t redeem a work if, in the first place, you don’t do it well.
Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7288539/site/newsweek/page/2/

Now, how many modern Hindu cults or organizations have you come across that lay such a strong emphasis on plain old hard work, eh?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Our sensitive lives

You know, the more i read stuff on the internet, the more i feel that we've become i little too "sensitive" or "politically correct" for our own good. We elect our presidents over issues like gay marriage or foreign-origin. We worry about weighty issues such as giving spare change to beggars as if we're "aiding and abetting" the beggar Mafia.

Perhaps, just perhaps, in the name of being sensitive and tolerant to all possible cultures, genders, and religions, we've become over-sensitive to the extent that we self-sensor every word that we utter. The basic assumption that i'm challenging here is the underlying thought that by default, we're all predjudiced and hateful towards each other. After all, this is why we feel the need to watch what we say or do, isn't it? I simply don't buy that!

In my opinion, the average common man or woman will have a certain reluctance towards anything that is different. This can mean the reluctance that a Hindu feels when bringing home a non-Hindu (heck, even from a different caste) or a white American bringing home a person of a different colour. The discomfort we feel is because we do not completly share our social rituals with the person, due to his/her belonging to a different religion, skin colour, or social strata. Make a conscious effort to deemphasise these social rituals, and we begin to tear down the walls of our predjudices.

Think also for a moment of the fundamental reasons why you chose your "friend" or your "lifemate". Did it have anything to do with your religion? Did it have anything to do with your monetary position? While it's understandable that most of your friends will belong to the same social segment as you, the only reason for this is that bonding and friendship is a probability game. Due to your reliance on your social rituals, you will naturally be surrounded by others who share the same rituals. What we forget is that this social compatibility is only a peripheral requirement for any kind of relationship.

Given this fact, why do we really need to be so careful in what we say or do in front of others? An innate dislike for an entire segment of society is a patently illogical idea, for there is no cause and effect. If we really don't dislike a religion, skin colour, or gender, why the need to be politically correct in the first place? Is it simply because of our stupid habit to bitch behind people's back just so we can get some brownie points with the bitch-session group? Is this some kind of an alpha-male contest where the leader of a group is defined not by his/her real power, but by their capacity to hate and to be snooty, even if there's no logical basis for this hatred?