Culture Journal

Muslims and Christians

Since September 11th and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq there has been an enormous surge of interest in the Muslim world from America. The ordinary American knowing nothing of this ancient culture will pick up bits and pieces from various sources including academic books, hateful right wing talk radio, American soldiers experiences or extreme propaganda dispensed by the Bush administration. These tidbits of information start to form an overall image of Islam of which a minority stress the majority moderate side of Islam, yet this is drowned out by the extremist fringe which is more reported on by the media as it generates sales.

As I have often written about in my prior posts, it is impossible to try to understand something as complicated as a thousand year old culture by reading a book written by a Westerner. It would not be unlike a Japanese person learning about cowboys from a book written by a Sumo wrestler who once rode a horse in Arizona. Something as complex and profound as an entirely different culture can only be understood when one has lived in it for quite a few years, speaks the language and participates in daily society.

Even if a very descriptive book was put out by the best scholar from within Islamic society carefully explained the culture in a way that Westerners could understand, it would still only offer a tiny glimpse like a frog experiencing the sky from the bottom of a narrow well.

I myself know very little about this enormous culture but I did have the good fortune to get my first taste while living in Spain in the historical city of Toledo. For those who do not know this ancient city, it was first established by the Romans and was the capital of various kingdoms. The Muslims took control of it in 711AD and made a great stride in humanity by being one of the first religious conquerors who did not persecute differing faiths. Instead, Toledo is well known for being one of the only places in the world where Jews, Muslims and Christians were actually able to live peacefully together. The Muslims still had control over the other two and Jews and Christians did not exactly have the same privileges as Muslims but this was a great advancement especially for the time.

Further, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the cities of Cordoba and Granada which remain a testament to the grandeur of Muslim society in that age. Their achievements in mathematics , science and medicine really pushed a rather backwards and superstitious western culture into the era of scientific and logical inquiry.

Given this early education, I am quite saddened when as an American I know that the first thought that enters an American mind when they hear the world “Islam” is that of a terrorist.
Again, as I have often written about, to truly understand another culture is a monumental task that even among the highly educated and elite is a difficult thing to do. Even though we now use the world “Global” in so many varied instances, most of them are trite when considering most of the world is stuck in a very tribal mindset. The first idea that appears when another culture is mentioned is roughly “Those people over there. People unlike me. The Others.”

Instead, I wish more people would think like the following and to get my point across will use a simple example. Ohio and Michigan think of each other in “Us. vs. Them” mentality especially in sports. The first thing that enters my head when I think Michigan is the colors Blue and Gold and of a group that Ohio must always beat or stay ahead of. This is quite silly but it is true. However, it would be much better that I realize Michigan is our neighbor, a part of the larger group that is our Nation and we are all actually brothers.

Now taking this silly example and applying it to a serious topic, those that are educated in history realize that Judaism, Islam and Christianity are all different branches of the same tree. Yet, for 2000 years even highly educated people have not been able to reconcile this fact. It almost seems farcical that extremely intelligent religious leaders and saints have put out immensely thought out, logical and intelligent papers and books highlighting exactly why their own brand of faith is correct and the others are wrong. To the skeptical person, the core reasons of such papers seem akin to something like “Well, the magic bunny is not the savior of everything as he was not the offspring of the alchemist leprechaun.” “Actually the savior is this mysterious stone with the eye painted on it and my magic stone trumps your magic bunny.”
It might seem awful to write something so seemingly blasphemous but this is exactly what religious arguments start to sound like when one has read too many books and especially when people start to kill or hate others based on religion.

In fact, when one gets into these tiny details which highlight the differences between religion especially such things as the funny hats each of them wear it seems like a vast and tragic joke.
I often imagine what would happen should the creator of everything appear today and observe what has transpired in terms of religious belief over thousands of years there may be two reactions. The first and more comforting version is that the being would be extremely saddened to see how his creation could make up something as complex as current religious institutions that have been warring ever since their invention. He would be so disappointed that the main tenants and simple ideas such as taking care of each other and enjoying this wonderful planet have become so twisted into gigantic institutions and made up rituals.

The other scenario is that this being does not even see a difference between these terms of “good and evil.” Things are simply the way they are and a different between good and bad simply do not exist. Therefore, even if someone was brutally murdered which in turn creates a cycle of sadness for the children and then disrupts the life of their descendants is neither good nor bad. Instead, once these people die and are on the other side it would seem as life was like that of a video game and any experience of life will always be a plus as it helped the soul grow . Of course this is a thought that I do not think any religious tradition espouses and is simply a thought.

I do have a hard time thinking the latter example as true and actually think that the human emotion is so strong it must make an impression somewhere, somehow in the cosmos and is being recorded. I do believe that helping others and being happy is very important not only for the individual but this energy somehow improves the overall environment and universe. I also subscribe to this idea of “attraction” which has been in many best selling novels in that positive thinking, actions create further positive thinking, actions, events and these things will actually manifest themselves.

Yet, when one tries to incorporate this energy into a systematic institution such as religion things can go vary wrong and the basic concepts from which these institution sprung become corrupted.

Now that we have started out on a very concrete topic and have veered into the subjective and intangible it is hard to try and climb back out of this theological black hole and to the subject of culture. I am quite sure that those who are able to think clearly about the central ideas of religion such as peace and love will vary easily be able to overcome the cultural differences. The reason is that they do not think of the other culture as inherently different but rather those in it as brothers and sisters who also wish to enjoy this beautiful planet we all inhabit.

It is almost as though the pure, loving ideas are being spoken very clearly and even received into the consciousness of the congregations yet true understanding is drowned out by the thumping techno beat of tribalism and “the others are different.” We hear these words of peace and love in religion but their meanings
are never truly comprehended as the institutions speaking them are enshrouded and built upon emphasizing the differences.

I can imagine a very learned and intelligent religious scholar reading this and treating me as a primary school student who dares venture into something so complex. Like a kinder-gardener describing a masterpiece to Michelangelo. Michelangelo would laugh at the youngster who knows nothing of paints, oils, lighting, depth and so on. Yet what Michelangelo fails to see is that the painting is that of a wretched corps hanging from a noose which the youth can clearly understand and detests. Yet what Michelangelo sees is the incredible artistry of the depiction.
What we perceive of other cultures and beliefs will always be constructed from the various tidbits of information we receive. Many times the information will conflict and we will simply make a choice of which to believe and filter out contrary views based upon our current environment and corresponding belief system. But one will never be able to understand unless it is actually experienced.

Most Americans will associate Islam with suicide bombers and simply think “that is what that culture does,” and not give it any deeper thought than that. Even those that are in charge of our national security and are paid to research this will most likely miss the point. The USA will spend so much time figuring out ways to prevent this from happening yet never understand clearly the “why?” For those that do understand they must experience the dreadful hopelessness and despair that the bombers do. No human is born with the desire to strap a bomb to themselves and kill others. A suicide is a suicide anywhere and is practiced by those who are under extreme duress or have bad wiring which if not inherited, was created from being in an unhealthy environment or state of mind. I imagine those spooks and security experts that do fully understand this also become quite depressed as the conditions that create these desperate situations are very complex such as that of the current situation in Palestine. It would seem that even though it is understood, there are too many forces at play and seemingly no way out which is quite depressing indeed.

It is futile to turn to religion in situations like this as it is an extreme case of us vs them mentality. Again the central tenant of religion to “take care of one another” is lost as religion has it’s own individual interests and hopes for gain.

Or one could look at Iraq and when dissected how many individuals actually wish good for the Iraqi population. I would imagine a majority of Americans actually do but unfortunately it is the institutions which corrupt this honest and sincere hope. For the Christian institution, it might come with the requirement that the Muslims there convert to Christianity (such as Christian Koreans going over there to convert). For the Bush Administration it comes with the requirement of thousands of barrels of oil per day and a military base. The USA actually has a better record of supporting dictators than spreading democracy but as long as Bush repeats the words “Democracy and Freedom” loud and long enough it is very difficult psychologically to resist believing these words.

With all these complications and distractions, how is it possible that the individual will be able to think clearly about another culture. How will it be possible to actually believe that they are actually brothers and sisters? The majority of religions might pay lip service to this but it is rare to find a congregation that actually and truly believes it.

All of these ideas are the downside of learning and living abroad. The traveler has always been thought of as sophisticated because of the different points of view gained and the sophisticated debate in which they can engage. In fact, travelers often become more confused and instead of getting closer to the truth, it becomes much farther away. And when they hear such one sided debate and bias from otherwise intelligent people and these ideas spread to the general population, it becomes very depressing and there is a sense of being alone. There is so much lip service paid to “having an open mind” but actually having one is a very difficult thing to achieve. Same can be said with this term “Global.” Just because you can see the ocean and even throw a ball into it does not mean one has actually swam in it.

And with that said, I return to the world of sound bites such as “surges, boots on the ground, hearts and minds, democracy, freedom.” Actually it would not be surprising if I could actually use all these words, string them together with various verbs, adjectives and subjective phrases and convince more than a few people I know what’s going on. “They gotta have FREEDOM, and to do so we gotta get A SURGE, BOOTS ON THE GROUND, AMERICA, can only help, HEARTS AND MINDS need to be LIBERATED, cause DEMOCRACY is the FREEDOM to SECURE the Iraqis from TERRORISTS.” With that I’ve summed up the arguments of most Republican commentators in one sentence.

Understanding a different culture is difficult enough without such distractions, propaganda and spin.

Culture Journal San Francisco

Fast Times in San Fran

Once again, long time, no post. Yet, the dam of thoughts have overflown and I couldn’t resist another post.

1. A glimpse of Asia in SF.

Last week, the retailing giant, Bloomingdale’s opened up in a new shopping mall in the center of the city. Today I decided to go see what all the fuss was about and was greeted with huge swarms of people milling about, checking out the shops and taking advantage of the discounts being offered.

Bloomingdale’s had the best offer which was free umbrellas if you filled out a survey. However, their scheme of gleaning information for umbrellas went splat on the ground. What happened was reminiscent of my experiences in China and Vietnam. If you’re going to give away anything of value, be prepared to be swarmed. It took approx, .5 seconds after finding the umbrellas to notice the line 6 miles long of ethnic Chinese with surveys in hand. Then it hit me, and I finally understood why all the Chinese people in the mall were walking around with four and five umbrellas of the same type and I burst out in laughter. My mind immediately flashed back to Vietnam and the crowds that gather there and how you must push and shove to get your freebie.

The Bloomingdale’s staff looked none too happy since the information they were receiving in the surveys was bogus as most Chinese in line did not speak English very well at all and were copying each others answers. The umbrellas were being given away on each floor and the Chinese were really making out by no sooner receiving an umbrella on one floor, handing it to the family umbrella holder and going to the next floor. I think most of China town must have been empty during this bonanza.

Now, given my experience in the third world, I absolutely know these umbrellas are going to be sold tomorrow for about $10 in China Town. You gotta hand it to the Chinese for being able to spot an opportunity and take it!

Once the Bloomingdale’s officials understood what was happening, they stopped the free umbrella promotion much to the dismay of many Chinese. I was lucky enough to be next to one who was yelling at one of the mall security people. “You Say free umbrewa until 7pm, now you no give! You give umbrewa!”

Adapting back to America is a piece of cake!

2. Politics

Again, I had a flashback to communist China when I heard the most recent statement of our “Dear Leader” GWB. GW was responding to a report that was splashed all over the media which said the war in Iraq would actually make the USA “less safe.” GW responded my saying that the report was “confusing the American people.” For those of you who never visited the Marxist countries this is a textbook quote. Whenever the censors miss something and make the rulers look bad, the information is always (take your pick).

1. wrong information
2. misguided
3. rogue elements
4. enemies of the people of (insert country)

And now we are “confused!”

Apparently, invading another country, killing their citizens, torturing them, ignoring international agreements does not make them hate us. To think so would be “being confused.”
1984 anyone?

3. Linguistics

After an absence of five years in America, my vocabulary is simply not up to date. For the benefit of my ex-pat friends, let me bring you up to date.

1. Lying, in order to glean information illegally is now known as “pretexting.” For example, if you want to know what crimes your co-worker has committed and tell the cops you are a reporter from a famous newspaper to get the info, you are simply “pretexting,” which is much less worse than lying.

2. You no longer try to “change someone’s opinion.” Now, it is a “fight for the hearts and minds.” Violent vocabulary is encouraged and try to use the word “fight” or “battle” in front of every sentence explaining what you are trying to accomplish.

3. “Send more soldiers.” Soldiers are now referred to as “boots.” “Boots” implies a commodity, or something not living. Please don’t say “humans” “fathers” “brothers” “sisters” or anything that sounds remotely alive. “Boots” will now be used. So, “sending more soldiers” is now “boots on the ground.”

4. Muslims

This group of people is really really angry. They control the political discourse now and should you say anything negative about them, there are going to be riots and death. But perhaps this is the way the pendulum should swing as Western policies has caused many of these people to become impoverished, and with no jobs, nothing else to do except visit the local Mosque and learn how to hate the West. The grand civilization that introduced mathmatics and astronomy 1000 years ago has disappeared and now there’s a lot of really pissed off people out there.
Of course not all blame can be shouldered by the west as many Muslim leaders have been horrendous, but we cannot forget that good leaders cannot do much with a really unhappy population. Also, blowing up their towns and killing their husbands, mothers, and children is not going to endear them to us no matter how good the intentions were previously and even though our “leader” calls us confused.

Where o’ where art thou Colin Powell! Come back! And why do you let that nasty Pentagon roll over you dear State Department! Quit taking its bullying!

If any government department should be trusted, it should be the State Department as they are the ones who actually live in other countries and sometimes (stress sometimes) truly understand their dilemmas unlike the war hounds whose entire training has only been to kill the other side.

On a side note, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a “profile” of American Muslims. One was of an overweight white woman who decided to convert to Islam last year. She simply cannot understand why so many people change their attitudes about her when she decides to wear her headscarf. Now converting is just fine, but not being able to understand why people’s opinions change when most of the population in this piece of land called America are none too happy with such people who recently ran planes in to buildings is just lacking any modicum of damn common sense. It seems to me she is one of those who are just dying for attention and have one of those complexities where you are gain some sick type of gratification by being ostracized. One might call this masochistic but I prefer the more colloquial term “just plain retarded.”

Journal Politics

Another CNN rant

I have said time and time again that CNN is awful and most intelligent people agree. So what is it that keeps us watching it? Apparently their business model works if even I cannot change my web browser start up page. I guess it’s because they have a worldwide network and are the first to report if something bad happens.

One thing I’ve noticed however, is the lack of information and debate in their top stories. The story I’m referring to now is the FBI raid on a congressman’s office. Apparently it’s causing a stir but from reading their articles, they never mention exactly why the office was raided. It goes something like this.

Congressman so and so’s office was raided. Republicans and Democrats don’t like it. Bush ordered the documents sealed. Congressman so and so was also mad.

Why exactly was it raided and if it’s causing such a stir why don’t they tell us why?

As for lack of debate, this appears to be a nationwide problem. Everyone is either on the left and right and they aren’t going to budge. The extent of the debate goes like this.
Left: The invasion of Iraq is bad because they just want oil.

Right: No “we” don’t, it’s about giving Iraqi’s freedom and to protect us from weapons of mass destruction.

On the Right, I think most people simply don’t want to go against the “team” which is their country. They’ve lived in America their entire lives and speaking against the country’s action just seems wrong.

The Left is anti-war folk who would be against any war. They are the ones who want to save the planet, destroy corporations, even though they use the corporations products and services daily.

What America needs is not your right or left propoganda and media which refuses to even consider the others point of view. A great show would be two intelligent people who take a position opposite to their own point of view and try to defend it while conceeding to points made by the other side. But no, debate in America has simply come down to “the other side is wrong” mentality.

Journal Politics

The American Solution to Suicide Bombers

It’s been a while since my last entry due to my moving back to America and I’ve been meaning to comment on this for a while. America seems mired down in this enigma of suicide bombings which they are having a very hard time stopping. I know that that there must be a lot of people with graduate degrees working on this problem but I think I’ve found where they are going wrong. You see, most people who are working on this problem most likely graduated from hamburger eating, too much television watching, SUV driving America!!!!

So what is their solution??? A FRIGGIN COMMERCIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Gen X’ers solution to the problem of suicide bombings is, yes a commercial which after watching so many of them throughout their life must have thought, “Gee, commercials got me to buy a brand new cell phone with e-mail capability, sold me on losing fat at Subway, and I learned that by taking 8 different drugs a day I could feel happier, lose bad cholesterol, and run a marathon. Perhaps if we made a commercial then it will solve the problem!”

As luck would have it, I was able to obtain a few preliminary drafts of these commercials through my secret contacts in Saigon.

1. It starts out with a young Iraqi youth in a park sitting by the pond contemplating while the narration starts. “Are you feeling down and depressed by American oppression? Have you given thought to strapping a bomb to yourself and blowing the hell out of everyone and everything? Is this stopping you from being able to concentrate on your daily activities and leave you feeling,,, well irregular?

Then through the wonders of modern science we have come up with ZANIKS, the wonder drug that will not only starve off these murderous intentions, but will also help lessen your cholesterol and leaving you feeling like yourself again. Please call 1-800-UGO-America for your free bottle of happiness.” Then very as the narrator speaks very rapidly “Terms and restrictions apply, side effects may include constipation, irritability, and hallucinations of grandeur. Not available in Samarrah, Falluja or the Kurdish homeland.”

2. The second one is of a suicide bomber who suddenly gets hungry on the way to his target and decides to drop in subway. With every bite the bombs start dropping out from underneath his shirt and as the poundage is shed away he starts to smile until he is finished and skips out of the restaurant to go play ring around the rosy with the other unemployed young males whose family have already been bombed to oblivion.

If commercials don’t work, then I heard they are thinking of introducing a new video game called “Infiltrating Iran Commandos” with the hopes of getting every disaffected Iraqi youth playing nonstop. If the game becomes popular then perhaps, they could get them to dream of sneaking into Iran, blowing up the leadership there, and thus kill two birds with one stone.
I however, having spent much time abroad have learned to think outside of the box and of something truly original. The solution to the problem of instability in Iraq is to put Saddam in charge of security!!!! Yes, he is a murderous dictatorial bastard but he is the last person who made Iraq secure and everyone there is afraid of him! It’s like America has the Ace of Spades but is afraid to play it! Actually, wasn’t Saddam the Ace in the infamous deck of cards? This is a rather ironic analogy but America should take that card and play it!

From the American way of thinking, Americans cannot understand why some “bad” Iraqis’ are blowing up the infrastructure America wants to build and don’t want freedom!!! My guess is America wants to control the government or at least get favorable oil contracts and cannot leave without at least something and this is what the “bad” people are fighting against. If it was simply a case of “Hey, we want to come in, fix your city, give you freedom and happiness” and so on then it would be stupid to try and stop it! But apparently we are at a stalemate and thus I think if America just promised to give Saddam his palaces back and a few million then he would be happy to put down this insurrection and could promise America favorable oil contracts!!!!

And yes, this idea is as ridiculous as playing commercials. So people in the Red states, if you don’t see the sarcasm please understand that it is a joke and don’t leave messages telling me it’s a terrible idea. Look “Sarcasm” up in the dictionary.

Journal Politics


The one problem with blogs is that we do not revise and correct what we write. An idea comes into our head, and we write it down, without being able to correct, revise or find faults with the idea. But then again, that takes a lot of time and perhaps, it is beneficial to not revise so we can gauge the true thinking of those around us since most peoples opinions and ideas are not as well thought out as they should be and blogs act as a meter of mass mentality.

Today I’d like to examine the subject of being institutionalized. Most people associate this word with prisoners who cannot adapt to society since they have become too accustomed to life in jail. In the dictionary, Institutionalized as an adjective is defined as, “Given the character of an institution or incorporated into a structured and usually well-established system.”

Therefore, are not most people inherently institutionalized if they have not spent much time outside of their own city, culture, or nation? It is very difficult for most people to adapt to a new culture and country if they have spent most of their life in only one culture. They are accustomed to the structure and mentality of their native land and therefore, couldn’t we say that this is a limitation which impedes most people from becoming a true intellectual since they can only understand, or see one side? 

Perhaps, the most valuable aspect of living abroad is the freedom which comes of breaking out of the institution of our native society. We become too accustomed to the standard and have not even conceived that our standard might not be the most optimal. For example, most people have credit cards and rack up huge debts due to their own greed. Now that President Bush is trying to do away with declaring bankrupcy and perhaps the return of “debtors prison” people are outraged. I do not like this new plan, but shouldn’t people not get themselves too far into debt in the first place due to overuse of the credit card? They should have been aware that credit card interest is exuberant but got themselves into it anyway because it is normal in Western society to have credit cards and they have been institutionalized but cannot see the harm credit cards can cause.

Another example is the war in Iraq. About half of Americans support the war even though the justification for the war was dishonest. The President stated that there might be WMD in Iraq based on information from the CIA. When this proved to be untrue the people still placed their faith in the president and said he simply got bad information. This is very naive in my opinion and their understanding of just how vast and powerful the CIA is.

They should give the CIA more credit and understand that if the CIA wants information they will find it. For something as dire as invading another country the information should be spot on, or “a slam dunk.” Yet even as the justification proved to be untrue, people are so institutionalized which causes too much faith to be put in the President that they will defend his decision when all evidence points to the contrary. Also, the President tried to say that Iraq was tied to Al-Queda which has been refuted by top officials and eventually proven false, yet people still hold their faith. The truth is, people must simply guess as to who is telling the truth and neither side really knows and most simply take a leap of faith in believing one side or the other.

A common justification that most of the disillusioned offer is “We have to fight terrorism abroad then fight it at home.” This again is simply repeating a catch-phrase from one they have put all their faith in. In my opinion, it should be restated, “We have to fight poverty abroad, before we have to fight the effects at home.”

For the first time, I saw students in Madrassas reading their texts obsessively bowing, becoming brainwashed and indoctrinated with the religious teachings. Instead of bombing these places, assassinating their leaders and so forth, we should help these counties become economically stable so that they can attend state schools and not learn to blow themselves up. Since they have no alternative for schooling, extremist religion has filled this void, and teach these otherwise innocent people to become terrorists. What we are seeing today in the form of terrorism, is in fact the result of western colonialism and the plundering of poor countries for their own benefit. These countries were left impoverished and there is no way for the population to get an education. The extremists have taken advantage of this and have turned these places into terrorist mills.

Yet, the current administration in America has indoctrinated half of the population into believing that we must blow up these places to stop terrorism which is flawed thinking. If I were born in one of these countries, and the only school to attend was an extremist one, then I would have to option but to attend this school in hopes of bettering myself. Then I might get drafted into “terrorism” get killed, and my siblings would then hate America and become terrorists themselves. Why is it that half of America cannot see this? It is becaused they are institutionalized into putting too much faith in their leaders. They are like children following their teachers who teach bad material. They chant, “Support America!”

Yet, what is America? It is supposed to be a democracy where all points of view are welcome and should have room to be debated. Yet what the Bush administration has done is vilify all ideas or information contrary to their agenda. In a way, they resemble communist China in suppressing all other points of view. America is an ensemble of people from different cultures and different ideas. Bush does not constitute America, he simply has the control of the reigns of power at present. Should all out war come about in America, many will have to fight not because they believe in the cause, but simply because the institution called America has declared war and America being the only institution they know will have to fight weather it is right or wrong.

Living in Vietnam has taught me this lesson. I have learned the history of Vietnam and read from books from both sides. What I learned is that the poor Vietnamese have been conquered so many times throughout history, and kept weak and impoverished by the Chinese and French. Americas involvement is stated that it was fighting “Communism” but most people do not understand what “Communism” is. If one reads the teachings of Ho Chi Minh and take a look at the constitution of Vietnam it is ironic to see that it was modeled after the American one and states that people should be free. From what I have read, Ho Chi Minh was not out to enslave his people but set them free from the foreign invaders, to unify them and make them strong.

After the defeat of the colonialist French, Vietnam was supposed to be reunited but America did not want this for fear of “Communism.” Perhaps, it is true that the political classes and elite in America did have a true fear of communism since it would not come in the form of a big monster or invading forces, but from the people if it were to take hold. The people in America were brainwashed or “institutionalized” to simply see communism as a dirty word. Yet, as I examine the political landscape of America and Vietnam, I see America as a place where two competing factions Republicans and Democrats vie for power. Perhaps this keeps a balance and a balance is good, although it is extremely unbalanced at present. In the communist country, only one party holds power and can use it for bad (China, Soviet Union) or good which Vietnam is currently doing in opening their economy.

Vietnam still has a long way to go, but does a plurality of political parties, instead of only one ensure a better society and that parties and the people that make up these parties will not abuse power? Is it true two parties are better than only one? There are so many questions and my understanding is s
till very limited and I can say that I really do not know. I can say however, that a student from any country will believe the teachings of whatever school of thought they come from and therefore become indoctrinated or institutionalized.

Switching gears and going back to the idea of Institutionalim, it is very hard to break out of the mold if one has been in it too long. The only way to get out is to travel and live abroad. But still, simply living abroad does not break the bonds of institutionalism. Most ex-pats, simply move abroad, but slip into another institution within the ex-pat community. Most of them have not learned the language which is the door to understanding a culture. They also associate only with other ex-pats and never really come to truly understand their host culture. Most are simply an indoctrinated person who refuses to honestly examine and ponder the teachings in the foreign land.

They are like a prisoner who has been released, but still prefers the comfort the walls of prison provide. Without them they feel vulnerable, weak, and exposed. It is the same for people on the extreme right and left in America. They have put their faith in an ideology, and should they even consider the other side, they will feel un-intelligent, weak, and wrong, which humans are not developed enough to tread a path of uncertainty even if it would enlighten them.