Groupthink

28 05 2011

Groupthink:
This occurs when a group sacrifices critical thinking (in order to have agreement on everything.) The primary socially negative cost of groupthink is the loss of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking.

I have a big problem with Groupthink. And as far as I can see, it is everywhere. It starts in school, when you’re expected to believe everything you’re being taught, (even, as someone recently pointed out, when they were teaching us the big bang theory in the science class while simultaneously teaching us creationism in the religious knowledge class and no one was allowed to ask why).

Home is where you’re not allowed to cut your hair short and wear that hyper-miniskirt because of what the neighbours might say. Then we grow up and come up against dress codes, marriage rituals, sexual choices, political preferences and religious beliefs that all end up for the most part falling into the same old stereotypical categories because we’re all too scared or thick to examine just why we’ve chosen what we have in our lives.

Richard Dawkins protested about how we tend to automatically categorise children into their parent’s chosen faith.  He observed that feminists have succeeded in arousing widespread embarrassment at the routine use of he instead of she. Similarly, he suggests, a phrase such as “Catholic child” or “Muslim child” should be considered just as socially absurd as, for instance, “Marxist child”: children should not be classified based on their parents’ ideological beliefs. According to Dawkins, there is no such thing as a Christian child or a Muslim child, as children have about as much capacity to make the decision to become Christians or Muslims as they do to become Marxists (Wikipedia).

Groupthink is how we decide so many things with little or no analysis or critique. It is the brainless worship of the accepted norm, carrying with it the equally brainless sense of exclusivity and exceptionalism. It also helps reinforce prejudices, stereotypes and meaningless ritual which are often cruel, deadly or at the very least thoughtless.

Here in Sri Lanka Groupthink governs a great deal. From childhood to ancient old age we are told repeatedly to conform, to give in, to accept and to say the words ‘what to do’ in the appropriate tone of resignation. Since we have no recourse in most cases this is what we do. The punishment for rebellion is anyway quite severe, involving huge social and personal sacrifice and isolation. You only have to ask a queer person what it means to be gay in this country. Whatever their story, it will involve either persecution, exile or deception. But while the gay community has its own internal issues with Groupthink, it remains one of the bravest icons of rebellion, standing against conformity and mainstream views in this island. Because if you’re gay, you’ve already broken one of the most important rules.  You have broken out. You’ve been thinking for yourself.





India’s ‘devadasi’ girls

23 01 2011

Why India’s ‘devadasi’ girls face a wretched life in the name of religion

Stretching back for centuries, the original devadasi were trained in prayer, dance and music. Holy enough to bring blessings and banish the “evil eye”, they were often courtesans but with a freedom of control over their lives that was not permitted to ordinary Indian women. It was British colonialists, with their Victorian morality, who first outlawed the practice. The Indian government followed suit in the 1980s…





Love the sinner hate the sin

24 11 2010

Every God fearing Christian has surely heard these words.

I don’t think there is anything that irritates me more than this line, especially when used on gay people. It’s like saying “we don’t hate you we just hate the act.” Like being gay is only about sex. (But I knew I was gay even before I ever had sex with a woman!)

Every other aspect of the relationship – the love, the sharing, the emotions

and the caring are all discounted. To me it’s like saying its ok to be Sri Lankan but don’t behave like one! So don’t eat with your fingers, and don’t drink tea with three spoons of sugar in it. It’s not a separate thing: to be and behave. How can it be? It’s just the patronizing attitude of people who haven’t experienced certain situations or emotions in their lives.

I just read the story of an Irish Catholic priest who was has been banned by the Vatican from publishing any more of his writings after he suggested that homosexuality was “simply a facet of the human condition”, and that same-sex attraction and acts have been a consistent feature of human life. The Church says it’s “not wrong to be gay but it is wrong to act gay”.

Can someone please tell me how the fuck I can separate the two?





Sex and death lie at the poisoned heart of religion

14 09 2010

Repression of sex, banning contraception, gay rights, abortion, stem-cell research and IVF treatment cause untold misery…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/14/sex-death-poisoned-heart-religion