Today I want to talk little bit about the rise of extremism and intolerance. The idea was brought to me courtesy of a statement by a political candidate who believes abortion under all circumstances- including rape or incest- should be illegal. (Carson) Very often this position is taken by religious zealots who believe that somehow instances of rape and incest are examples of "God's will" and that a subsequent birth despite the criminal circumstances that led to the conception- were somehow ordained by our creator.
Indeed, I have friends who read this blog and who agree with that position. I am ok with that and I'll explain why in a bit.
If I've learned one thing over the years, I think it would have to be that life should almost always be done in moderation. The needle should hang around the middle of the gauge. When an issue becomes extreme- the people promoting extreme views become unstable and downright dangerous. People adhering to extremes cannot accept the idea that moderation and tolerance for the views of others is the proper approach. Instead they think that they have been singularly pre-ordained and programmed by God himself with all of the correct answers. God in his infinite wisdom apparently forgot to tell the millions of people practicing abortion that it should be illegal. So today I thought I'd discuss a few issues where people tend to come off the rails with extremism. So let's take a random walk through a myriad of examples first of moderation and then extremism.
I have a friend who can smoke one cigarette in the morning and one cigarette at night. She has been doing this for 30 years. Smoking in moderation. I can't do it but she does.
People who can drink once in awhile, take it or leave it style, or perhaps a drink a day are said to be "moderate" drinkers- meaning I suppose, that their drinking does not cause the rest of us harm. In other words- it's not extreme.
There are folks who go to church once or twice a week. They practice their own beliefs in private and they do not use casual conversations to promote their beliefs or diminish the beliefs of others. In other words, they live their lives with respect for others.
My favorite group of people and you will meet damn few of them- are those that practice tolerance for others and engage in moderation at all times. Very often you will hear others refer to them as "nice people" because they do not offend anyone. Of the thousands of people I have known, I can honestly say I have only met two or three people like this. I had the very pleasant opportunity to work for one- unfortunately his working life and ultimate termination came about as a result of an extremist held completely hostage by ego.
We both worked for the same woman, a gal who once told me that she enjoyed "firing" people. Firing people is an example of extremism. You don't fire people because your ego enjoys it and therefore you must satiate that need- you fire people when you have exhausted all of your intermediate remedies- and thus terminating a person becomes your last recourse. So it was, this woman fired my boss who was effective while practicing life in moderation, primarily because he would not practice her brand of extremism.
We were once a very nurturing society, particularly in small towns and rural areas. In those settings people are forced to be courteous to each other because they interact very frequently. I understood this well. The ticket you write today might be to the mechanic or doctor you will need tomorrow. Often people in small towns attend the same churches and functions. People help each other in rural settings. I feel grateful for those who helped me.
The idea of a caring, nurturing, tolerant society is completely lost in the big city. I believe that. Occasionally there are random acts of kindness in the city but in small town America- helping others or taking time to help others simply because you care- happens every day.
This week in Paris, ISIS attacked and killed a hundred innocent people.
Islam is extremism. I want to believe that people should be free to worship and support the religion of their choice. The problem with Islam, Sharia law, and the Quran is that they support extremism and intolerance of others. That is why I have often thought that Islam is not a religion but rather a spiritually sick philosophy founded by a self declared prophet 600 years after the time of Christ. The other problem with Islam is that while I have studied it a bit and I have read the Quran- most non Muslims have not. If you want a hateful, exclusionary God- then Islam is the way to go.
I am about to introduce to you the concept of killing human beings in moderation.
Killing a person is probably the worst thing human beings do. Yet there are times when it becomes acceptable or at the very least, unavoidable. Killing people in the defense of your life or intervening when someone else is about to be killed are the only times when killing someone is acceptable. That was what I was taught and unless you've been trained specifically to kill someone or are in that business- I think most people generally don't think about it. It's just not something they need to think about but they should. The extremists are growing in number.
My brand of killing in moderation does not require state executions or dropping bombs on brown people.
Ben Carson does not adhere to the idea of abortion in moderation or in certain circumstances. He quite clearly is a Christian adherent to the idea that all births are "God's will" and that all potential babies should be born. I understand that and Carson may actually be practicing his brand of life in moderation. What's he going to do? Reverse the Supreme Court? Not likely. If that is Carson's brand of extremism, the one where the innocents get a chance, I can live with that too. Either way, I'm not too worried about his position.
I miss small town America and civics classes. I miss helping people and having them help me. Here in the big city, it's just another dog eat dog environment. I don't even know my neighbors. Practicing life in moderation has been hard for a guy like me. But I'm getting better.