Since the beginning of the human experience, man has professed a desire for peace. In every culture, the evidence of a desire for peace is there. However, the behavior of many, if not all societies past and present have not born out this desire for any sustained period of time. There are always those who will stop at nothing to prevail – often in the name of peace, or worse, God. It is patently obvious throughout history. You would think we’d have learned by now.
It might sound as though this will be just another tirade against the war in Iraq or this president and the neo-cons that put us there. True, there is a wealth of evidence that this is yet another example of war in the name of peace, but there is another side to the coin. There are those who are so fervently against this war that they have dug their feet into an ideology that opposes that of the other side so completely that they are defined by who they are against rather than what. Peace cannot exist without tolerance; it does not live in the same house as obstinacy and dies in the face of arrogance – however well intended.
Ultra right-wingers have much in common with those who take up the ultra left. Neither wants anything to do with bi-partisanship unless it furthers his or her side’s agenda. Of course, this kind of winner-take-all compromise is rare – usually for a true compromise to occur, each side must give up something. Those on the extreme edges of the continuum will hear nothing of it. A moderate is a traitor; neither liberal nor conservative, they are Democrat or Republican in name only – a necessary evil that must be tolerated to have the necessary numbers for there to be any chance of forwarding the extremist's agenda. It is an agenda that is not negotiable.
A freethinker, a moderate or -gasp- an independent has the ability to pick and choose. He or she is not bound by ideology… not blinded by arrogant obstinacy. There is always room for negotiation and a free exchange of ideas is encouraged, never feared. There is no shame in compromise and no weakness in acknowledging the positive in a rival. The ego is never on the table. In an arena that is expected to produce the best possible outcome for all, diplomacy by steamroller is never an option. Even when the debate involves an issue as volatile as war, there is room for good faith – principles should still triumph over personalities.
Unfortunately, the extremist will never hear this. It is all or nothing and nothing is for idiots and losers. The current administration has used this ideology of aggression under the shroud of peace to create a war that is nothing short of disastrous. However, the ultra-liberal contingency isn’t helping. It will take a rational, measured and bi-partisan effort to extract us from this mess. It will take intelligence to deal with the aftermath and no one person or party has all the answers. We don’t even know all the questions, yet there are those who are so adamant, who just know what is right that they will shout down anyone who isn’t in lock step with them.
I prefer to think for myself.
Peace is a much bandied word. I think most have forgotten what it means. There is zero tolerance in most places and hence no peace.
Got here from michele and you set me thinking.
C.S. Lewis summed it up in the "Screwtape Letters" when Screwtape the Arch-Demon tells the young tempter Wormwood--as the young tempter was trying his best to recreate Hitlers, Mussolinis, and if it would have been in recent times, I am sure he would have added Hussein--"Why use murder, when cards will do the trick."
After having traveled around the world so much over the past few months, I realize that it's a good thing that people that don't live here are able to differentiate between the people who live here and the people who run this place.
Michele sent me tonight and I'm glad she did.
Hello, Michele sent me on a return visit tonight. And I'm with you on this one.
Just yesterday, searching the radio for acceptable driving music I stumbled across some fervent discussions on an unfamiliar talk station. Having only heard a few impassioned words before scanning to the next station, I realized that I had no idea if the speaker was ultra-right or ultra-left. And I wondered if one didn't use the existence of the other as their reason for being.
When adults start acting like school children who haven't learned to share, I certainly want to give them something better to do with their time than poke at each other.
I'm glad I stopped by tonight.
As Pooh Bear said 'I am a bear of very little brain' - but with my very little brain I do like to make my own opinions and decisions.
Michele sent me to agree Peace is a lost commodity - if we ever found it.
You are, of course, correct. And being an independent, I perfer to think for myself also. I do oppose the current leadership, but I am not convinced that either party is running the right people to take over the job. Dire straits, we are in, as Yoda would say.
Amen. As I watch the yin and yang of below-the-belt political wrangling, I'm often struck by how those on the extreme edges of each ideology don't discuss as much as they bark, and they fail to have common ground on each other's love of country.
It isn't strictly an American phenomenon, either: we've got the same shtick here in Canada. They're just not as bombastic about it all.
I like the buffet philosophy, frankly. Like you, I can pick and choose perspectives, and I can navigate the landscape on my own.
As always, eloquently stated.
Hi from me and Michele :D
I really enjoyed this post, or as much of it as I could get with my Mom yakking in my ear.
I'm a moderate, which I guess means I'm a Republican in name only? I was Independent for quite a few years when I first registered at 18, but I got tired of not having more of a voice in the elections.
I've spent rather a decent number of years trying to unlearn what I've picked up in my earlier years. Bit like preferring to make up my own mind on prejudice, history, tv, music and other odds'n'ends like politics instead of just inheriting the ideas from everyone else.
Means I get to watch all the rubbish that everyone else was saying all along was rubbish. But at least I'm making my own mind up about that :-) And it means I've been confronting some of the prejudices I have which hopefully no-one knows about due to me being able to squish 'em.
Adding to Kenju's but directing it more to UK politics - I'm not too certain that we'd vote for any of the 3 major political parties over here if there was an acceptable alternate choice ... Just can't trust a politician these days to be their own person instead of just being an extension of the party machine.
Michele sent me :-)
I wholeheartedly agree with you Mike. Well laid out here...
yes, I have an extreme opinion on extremism. :)
Two people came to mind when reading your piece.....
Robert Fulghum and his insightful book "Everything I Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten".....about caring and sharing on the playground and in the classroom and about holding one another's hand when crossing the street.
The other? Bono.....singing in the Name of Love.....
We have to work towards a better understanding of eachother....it can only happen if we see each other as human beings, all cut from the same bolt of multi coloured fabric. We may have a different outside pattern, but inside, behind it all.......we are the same.
sorry i havent been by much. it has been a busy spring.
Personally I've come to know shouters in my lifetime, and am truly convinced that they shout not to be heard, but rather feel that the louder they shout, the more "correct" they are.
Sad really, as peace is such a simple solution greatly acheived through everyone shutting off the response element in their brain long enough to hear all sides to acheive a diplomatic heaven. Who knows.... perhaps we will learn something new once we listen, rather than formulating opinions before all the facts are out.
Just my simple opinion.....
"There are those who are so fervently against this war that they have dug their feet into an ideology that opposes that of the other side so completely that they are defined by who they are against rather than what. Peace cannot exist without tolerance; it does not live in the same house as obstinacy and dies in the face of arrogance – however well intended."
in your above quote, you express so perfectly what i've thought for a long time. fantastic writing, sam.
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