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Shared and Subjective Truth in 'The Path to Paradise'

FatCatRex's picture

As is the basis of many faith and affinity groups, the purpose (or truth, if you will) of the gathering is shared among the participants. The shaheed Berko interviews share similar perspectives and must, in the end, all hold the same idea that it is glorious to die in the service of Allah by eradicating Jews. As Anne and I have been discussing in the comments on my second webpaper, the group-think aspect of shared truth presents a unique set of issues, not the least of which is how to authenticate or validate truths when the only checks/balances are one's compatriots. When we all believe the same thing, we are no longer checking the truth critically but instead accept the common status-quo ideas.

My second web paper about PostSecret commented on the way in which a community of followers have developed around Frank Warren's PostSecret project...and perhaps even more relevant is the number of submissions he has received since the project began (somewhere in the neighborhood of 300,000). All of those submissions came from individuals who felt it would be easy, and even recuperative, to reveal/share their secrets publicly and anonymously. Obviously there is motivation for us as individuals to seek out others who believe in the truths we do; we have a need to find and identify those social connections, and to affirm our own perspectives. It is striking however, that the same structuring of our need for shared truth is applicable to Palestinian suicide bombers as much as to participants in the Post Secret project.

The difference is that the individuals Berko interviewed were willing to die for their shared truth(s)...and because group members don't allow their truths to come under scrutiny, because then the sky would fall, what do we do with all the world's conflicting truths? Obviously Israeli forces hold a different set of standards as truth--which are compatible with but different from the US Military, etc etc. I'm sure this is fairly obvious to us all at this point, but reading 'Path to Paradise' just reinforced how troubling and circular our struggles for liberation and truth are. We will continue on, groups militarized and rallied around our respective shared beliefs, ready to fight all those not standing with us. I just wonder how we move past this subjective your truth vs. my truth showdown. I know we aren't the UN, but it's hard to think of other things after reading the first chunk of Berko's work.

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