On Fundamentalism

“But we have to do something to clamp down on fundamentalism, don’t we?” I said.

“I think we need to think of fundamentalism—Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Maoist or whatever—as something like coal gas or tornadoes,” Mr. Magundi replied. “It’s a force that exists. It shouldn’t blow up or blow down and kill a bunch of innocent people, but it will given half a chance. There’s no use saying there shouldn’t be tornadoes in Oklahoma; there are, and that’s life, and we just have to make the best of it. We have to build our houses with shelters so that the tornadoes will blow over without killing us. And when they do blow over, we have to be ready to pick up the rubble and shrug and say, ‘Well, that’s the way it goes.’ In the future we may be able to mitigate the force of the weather, and we may be able to mitigate the force of fundamentalism. But I have a suspicion that, if we try, we’ll botch both jobs terribly, and make a bigger mess than the one we were trying to clean up.”

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