Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Prisons of the Mind

An interesting take on current cutural and social happenings, from Scott Adams

In both this blog and my podcast, the victim mentality and how it is a large part of Cultural Marxism/Postmodernism has been discussed at quite some length, but in this video, Scott Adams explains how a victim mentality, or at least a feeling of helplessness, can be broken, and it comes down to realising that a lot of physical problems are actually psychological problems. In other words, maybe you are not doing something because you think that you can't do it, or you think that it is not physically possible.

Adams explains this by way of two fallacies:

1. History repeats itself.

This isn't true because it is impossible for all the variables and factors from one historic event to be reproduced in another. (History definitely has cycles, as Imam Ibn Khaldun brilliantly pointed out in his Muqaddimah, but again, the exact variables and factors are never  reproduced.) Adams' point is that submitting to the notion that history repeats itself puts oneself in a mental prison, i.e. one believes that events will always and inevitably play out according to some pre-determined plot and therefore there is nothing you can do to better your situation. To be clear, I'm not talking about eschatology and what Allah has decreed to happen in His universe. Rather, this is about how we approach our own lives on a daily basis, which includes our worship, our families, our jobs and so on. 

Do you carry around certain assumptions regarding any of the above? For example, do you assume (and take for granted) that knowledge can only be obtained from certain people from a certain location? Do you assume that children can only be "educated" if they go to a government school, because that's what everyone else has done for several generations? Do you assume that getting a job can only be done via sending out CVs and application forms and hoping for an interview? Even better, do you assume that earning a living can only be done by working for someone else, or having a  9-5 job?

2. The problem has to be the solution.

Adams uses the example of slavery in the United States, but there are several examples that probably most people can relate to. What if you have an abusive parent  ( or other family member, colleague, employer etc.) and this individual has caused you a great deal of psychological trauma? Do they have to apologise to you and rectify themselves before you can better yourself? Absolutely not. You can treat and better yourself regardless of what they say or do. Don't waste your life away while blaming your childhood for your failures as an adult. I never forget the statement of Susan Forward in her book Toxic Parents: 'You are not responsible for what was done to you as a child. However, you are responsible for what you do about it as an adult.'

Another example is the assumption that the government can solve the problems it creates. Why should the government be expected to solve the failures of government schools? (Why not give the free market a try?) The same can be said of government attempts to alleviate poverty and make healthcare accessible and affordable.

In a hadith qudsi, related by al-Bukhari and Muslim, Allah says, 'I am as My slave thinks of Me.' We have to have a good opinion of Allah and expect good things to happen, even if they don't appear as such from our limited, human perspective. We should also believe that we can meet the challenges that Allah sends our way, because Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bear.

May Allah grant us all the tawfiq to be optimistic and positive and not to fall prey to feelings of helplessness and victimhood.


Related Post:
Islam is revelation, not a race or culture

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