Jewish Atheist

An agnostic atheist perspective
from a once orthodox Jew.

The humanity of a system is better judged by the criticisms of the disaffected than by the praise of the satisfied.

The other day I read the xojane article “What women’s media needs to know about chassidic women" and it got me musing. There’s a lot to say, and perhaps I will in later posts, but I wanted to focus on one idea it inspired:
I really question the perspective of people already in a movement. I hesitate to accept their opinions as being truly informed or completely rational. The fact is, people defend and rationalize even terrible situations - if it’s their own. Of course, some people may enjoy or at least be satisfied with a given system. They focus on the stuff they like, or simply convince themselves they’re happy with it. I say this because you can find people in all sorts of horrible and oppressive situations which they rationalize as being ok. Abusive relationships, stockholm syndrome {x}, or just think of some of the dangerous cults/religions which have unquestionably harmed their members physically, psychologically, or sexually. {Well, at least it’s unquestionable to those outside the cult.} Outsiders readily recognize the problems when they’re not their own. 
Additionally, people often don’t consider or even realize that things could be different. They may literally not know of any other way of life, or it may be so beyond them that’s it’s simply unthinkable. Kinda like that d’var torah about “not coveting your neighbor’s wife” {or other property} being comparable to a peasant who wouldn’t even dream of marrying the princess. It’s just not in his realm of possibilities. Similarly, how many kids raised (ultra-)orthodox even consider the possibility that they could leave and live happily? How many women even question the fairness of religious laws and customs? and so on.
In contrast, a member who’s become disillusioned is in a better position to judge the system since they understand the system’s mentality but can also recognize the problems. I’m not saying they’re objective or unbiased, but they can consider it from more than one angle.
The fact is, it’s difficult to criticize a system we’re in. Some of us may genuinely enjoy it; some may convince themselves they do; and some may simply feel unenthusiastic. Their praise for the system - and this isn’t merely religion, btw, it applies to government and culture as well - doesn’t mean as much to me as the criticism of those former or current members who can see the problems.
I’m sure a lot of you will jump on me over this idea, and probably say that it applies equally to me or that BTs {‘born-agains’~, like the article author} are in a position to judge fairly. I’m not convinced, but feel free to fill up my inbox with your objections.
Cheers.
{Full Resolution Link}
~~
Followup #1: Got a message “suggesting” that I remove savage since he’s considered trans-unfriendly. Two points: a. I’m not equating everyone in the photo. They’re just interesting examples of the point I’m trying to make. b. I’m not against swapping savage for someone else.. but it’s gonna be a huge pain in the ass, so it might take some time.
#2: Frederick Douglass; Susan B. Anthony; Martin Luther King Jr.; Wafa Sultan; Ai Weiwei; Dan Savage; The Unknown Rebel.

The humanity of a system is better judged by the criticisms of the disaffected than by the praise of the satisfied.

The other day I read the xojane article “What women’s media needs to know about chassidic women" and it got me musing. There’s a lot to say, and perhaps I will in later posts, but I wanted to focus on one idea it inspired:

I really question the perspective of people already in a movement. I hesitate to accept their opinions as being truly informed or completely rational. The fact is, people defend and rationalize even terrible situations - if it’s their own. Of course, some people may enjoy or at least be satisfied with a given system. They focus on the stuff they like, or simply convince themselves they’re happy with it. I say this because you can find people in all sorts of horrible and oppressive situations which they rationalize as being ok. Abusive relationships, stockholm syndrome {x}, or just think of some of the dangerous cults/religions which have unquestionably harmed their members physically, psychologically, or sexually. {Well, at least it’s unquestionable to those outside the cult.} Outsiders readily recognize the problems when they’re not their own. 

Additionally, people often don’t consider or even realize that things could be different. They may literally not know of any other way of life, or it may be so beyond them that’s it’s simply unthinkable. Kinda like that d’var torah about “not coveting your neighbor’s wife” {or other property} being comparable to a peasant who wouldn’t even dream of marrying the princess. It’s just not in his realm of possibilities. Similarly, how many kids raised (ultra-)orthodox even consider the possibility that they could leave and live happily? How many women even question the fairness of religious laws and customs? and so on.

In contrast, a member who’s become disillusioned is in a better position to judge the system since they understand the system’s mentality but can also recognize the problems. I’m not saying they’re objective or unbiased, but they can consider it from more than one angle.

The fact is, it’s difficult to criticize a system we’re in. Some of us may genuinely enjoy it; some may convince themselves they do; and some may simply feel unenthusiastic. Their praise for the system - and this isn’t merely religion, btw, it applies to government and culture as well - doesn’t mean as much to me as the criticism of those former or current members who can see the problems.

I’m sure a lot of you will jump on me over this idea, and probably say that it applies equally to me or that BTs {‘born-agains’~, like the article author} are in a position to judge fairly. I’m not convinced, but feel free to fill up my inbox with your objections.

Cheers.

{Full Resolution Link}

~~

Followup #1: Got a message “suggesting” that I remove savage since he’s considered trans-unfriendly. Two points: a. I’m not equating everyone in the photo. They’re just interesting examples of the point I’m trying to make. b. I’m not against swapping savage for someone else.. but it’s gonna be a huge pain in the ass, so it might take some time.

#2: Frederick Douglass; Susan B. Anthony; Martin Luther King Jr.; Wafa Sultan; Ai Weiwei; Dan Savage; The Unknown Rebel.

  1. melodysglasses reblogged this from sexy-pickle-of-your-heart
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