Saturday, July 26, 2014

Truth and Meaning: Extremism


One of the reasons I write this blog is to speak to the masses of you out there who consider yourselves “middle of the road.” Maybe you are a Republican, a Democrat, or even an Independent. Maybe you are a Methodist, a Catholic or an atheist. You read my blog because it speaks with a progressive voice. You would never post a comment, because you are not involved … yet.

But the time is coming when lurkers and bystanders are going to have to take a position. Extremely wealthy people are buying our government. Extremist conservatives have hijacked the Republican Party, making Ronald Reagan look like a moderate — and Dwight Eisenhower a positive liberal. On matters of public policy, the middle ground is shrinking. Debates today tend to be black or white, all or nothing, and compromise is disappearing from our public dialogue.

For years, we put up with the Westboro Baptist Church and their outrageous offenses. Few Christians publicly condemned their acts of hate, their complete misrepresentation of the message of love taught by Jesus. Every statistic shows that our national worship of guns leads to more killing than anywhere else in the world. And yet, the voice of the NRA goes largely unopposed except for small groups with little backing from the church. The only time the church got largely involved in Michigan was when a bill threatened to allow open carry spaces to include churches.

And now, an anti-abortionist group has invaded the sanctuary of a church in New Orleans, disrupting the worship service during a moment of silence honoring a recently deceased member. Fortunately, we Unitarian Universalists practice what we preach, so the protesters were escorted out of the church by trained peacekeepers as the congregation sang to overwhelm their shouts of hate.

When will it end? How far down the path of extremism must we go before you get involved? How would you feel if people violated your sacred, holy space, calling you names and damning you? In the 1960s, we called this the Silent Majority. Well, the time for silence is over and reasonable people must begin to reclaim the moral center of this nation.

Extremism is the weapon of the ignorant, of the bully. Extremism is immoral and silence only fuels its flame. It is time to get off the sidelines and let your voice be heard. It is time for true people of faith and love to stand up to the extremists and say, “Enough!”

1 comment:

Andrew Hidas said...

Well stated, Jeff. My own conundrum: how extreme might I allow myself to become, and in what ways, in opposing extremism? A slightly humorous undercurrent: I am extreme in my commitment to moderation & dialogue!(Or is that an oxymoron?)

Not so humorous: when the opposition (i.e. the NRA, as you point out, or various ideological Taliban in every culture), isn't the least bit interested in moderation or dialogue. That puts moderates in a serious bind. Some relevant recent commentary on this very matter: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/07/why-am-i-moving-left-109241_Page2.html#.U9NOS1YiRMY