At various times over the European Middle Ages, sitting Popes would routinely call for crusades not too different from today’s Islamic jihads. These crusades had military objectives that had lofty ideals attached to them, such as those that involved the “retaking” of the “Holy City” for “the greater glory of the Almighty” and other crap mentalities like that. It so happened that the term “crusade” as used in most history books became generally associated with the specific example I cited — wars fought with one or the other Islamic empire of the time over the city of Jerusalem. Many monarchs were only too eager to volunteer armies and resources for these “noble” udertakings. This was after all a time when indulgences could be bought from the Church. These indulgences were perceived by the moronic minds of the time to equate to brownie points with God and an assured place in Paradise with Him. For the rich and powerful, the ultimate brownie point scored with the Almighty would come in the form of military service or the provision of an entire army to support the latest crusade.
The Crusades along with its close cousin The Inquisition as well as various crimes against humanity perpetrated in the name of various gods over our history as a species rank among some of the most outrageous instances of wholesale misguidance. There are three key elements that underpin the psychology that drives human stampedes of the scales seen in the crusades and other instances of genocide that pepper human history: a perverse mission, prevalent flawed thinking, and extreme deference.
What better way to illustrate the above psychological underpinnings by using — what else — a renowned modern-day Medieval society such as what can be found in the Philippines!
The crusader mentality can be found in the Philippines today. It may not be as militaristic as the term connotes (for that matter Filipinos don’t have much of a world-class martial tradition to begin with, as our sorry-ass military history would show), but it still so spectacularly exhibits itself — within the domain that our renowned Heritage of Smallness allows, that is.
A perverted sense of “mission” underpinned by melodrama
Emotion and messianic complexes drive the sort of people who end up grossly misguiding an entire society with their demagoguery. Rather than see themselves as being motivated by a more down-to-earth inspiration underpinned by, say, personal fulfilment or even personal reward, they take a lofty we are doing this at ‘great personal sacrifice’ for the ‘greater’ good position which at best is quaintly noble and at worst rather amusingly self-important.
A dogmatic set of narrow guiding principles bourne out of inbred thinking
The mentality basically reflects their religious origins. “Crusades” and “messiahs” are pretty much religious conceptual relics. And not surprisingly, organised religion is both dogmatic in nature and inbred in the way it manages (or rather controls) its organisational taglines. You can see it in the way many people who belong to organisations (and, for that matter, entire societies) that have a track record of stunted intellectual development and growth turn inward when their views are challenged — preferring instead to surround themselves with like-minded people and their myopic like-minded views rather than open their doors to open and often confronting debate.
Deference to hierarchies and old/traditional orders rather than engage along lateral and egalitarian communication lines
Typical of people whose minds are imprisoned in crusader mentalities is that they as a matter of personal policy defer their thinking to traditional hierarchies. As such, they have a limited ability to process information acquired in the field, from peers, and even from those they perceive to be subordinates. Instead, they maintain a thinking approach tethered to their “elders”, their dogma, and their war cries and slogans. They escalate their personal issues with others to their elders — and the elders of their adversaries — rather take them up individual-to-individual. The latter is the mark of a people fit to be democratic. Unfortunately what constitutes typical behaviour in Filipino society does not meet this specific criterium.
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Crusades, of course, go hand-in-hand with some form of deity or its modern-day proxy. In 21st Century Philippine society, blind beholdenness to religious edict is still a norm and, as such, a deity as an underpinning to modern-day “crusades” here still applies (thus the continued power and influence of the primitivist Philippine Roman Catholic Church). There are other entities in our society that, largely by our own doing, now enjoy deity status as well. One of them that I’ve cited many times before is the Philippine Media which is pretty much laughing all the way to the bank year in and year out as a result of our continued patronage of their mediocre products. The other is the now largely-discredited cadre of traditional demagogues that, admittedly, still infest the Philippine blogosphere. The power of the latter two lies in their ability to pass themselves off as the Average Pinoy Schmoe’s ally against the “evil” government and other evil “oppressors” — a clear play into the easy target that is our renowned victim mentality.
How much longer we choose to be imprisoned by our crusader mentality is all up to us. We have the power to be free and to choose. We just need to make use of this power wisely.