REAL wellness is a philosophy and lifestyle designed for consciously pursuing and sustaining mental and physical wellbeing. It is focused on four primary dimensions:
- Reason (critical thinking);
- Exuberance (meaning and purpose, joy, etc.);
- Athleticism (exercise and science-based nutrition); and
- Liberty (personal freedoms).
These four dimensions constitute the acronym “R-E-A-L” in REAL wellness, and constitute the focus of skills and practices associated with this way of thinking and acting.
Radical Islam and Christian Nationalism are destructive branches of two religions. Both are incompatible with REAL wellness. Radical Islam is universally understood as an existential threat to all non-believers (infidels);
less recognized is the danger of Christian Nationalism to our secular Republic in America.
Each of these two extremes are discussed in turn.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote two influential (and controversial) books on the subject of Radical Islam–“Infidel” in 2007, and “Heretic” in 2015.
I interviewed Ayaan in 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin during her appearance (accompanied by a police escort charged with her safety) at the annual Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) convention. This was four years after she was forced to flee Holland, as she had fled her native Somalia, for refuge in the West (NYC). It was an honor to engage this remarkable woman on a personal level. I recommend both books if interested in an appreciation of the toxic threats of radical Islam. The books reveal what life was like for Ayaan, and largely remain so, for women in theocratic Islamic nations. Both reflect the fact that many of the basic liberties we take for granted, including speech and worship (or not!), freedom from want and from fear) are forbidden (especially for women) in Islamic countries. The life story Ayaan describes in Somalia mirrors the norms and traditions in Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states. In such countries, dissent is hazardous and controls are both physical and mental, the latter amounting to what Christopher Hitchens called, “mind-forged manacles.”
The tenets of Islam are enforced by male power elites (imams, ayatollahs and theocratic officials). However, the imprinting is all-pervasive owing to beliefs and rituals inculcated from birth to adulthood, and reinforced daily by families, clans and communities. (Note the similarity of such indoctrination to the experiences of children raised in fundamentalist Christian cults, and to a lesser but still powerful degree by nearly all religions, particularly the Roman Catholicism of my early years.)
The outlook for women in Islamic countries is grim, and even in the West, the REAL wellness prospects for orthodox Muslim women are dark, at best. REAL wellness can be enjoyed only when there are options and choices, as well as alternative sources of information about the nature of reality. At present, Islam is the only reality in Islamic theocracies, as Christianity is for most evangelicals, and as Christianity would be for all of us under the rule of Christian nationalists. (More on that shortly.)
It seems improbable that Western (or other) women accustomed to freedom of choice regarding belief, dress, profession, behavior, marital partner and the like would tolerate conditions women endure in Islamic states. Most men and women find it almost incomprehensible that many females in such societies have their sexual organs cut away to reduce temptations to enjoy sexuality. Such barbarisms and other grotesque practices and traditions are vividly described in “Infidel.”
Ayaan writes that those who claim Islam is peaceful properties for sale in istanbul and compatible with Western values are engaged in wishful thinking. She suggests that to accommodate Muslims and expect we can all just somehow get along is a consolation doomed to fail, as it betrays an insufficient understanding of the nature of religion. Ayaan recommends that people become familiar with the tenets of the Islamic faith. A closer look at the Islamic holy book (the Qur’an) and the written traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (Hadith) demonstrate that conflict in general, and violence against non-believers (infidels) in particular, are inevitable. Sadly, Islam gives uneducated, marginal true believers an idealized sense of meaning and purpose that is injurious to their own best interests and a peril to ours.
Ayaan suggests that our mission should be to undermine, by education, a destructive, ruinous ideology, beginning with efforts to discredit the misogyny and sexual repression endemic to the Islamic religion. She seeks nothing less than a rebellion by Muslim women. Liberation will not come quickly, but the slow haul to freedom and a better quality of life should be of interest to all wellness seekers who desire such values for themselves. Initiatives that mitigate the abuses and reeducate the faithful, however modest, might facilitate an Islamic emergence from the Dark Ages that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has described.