We’re All Extremists Now

By Graham Glover

Extremism is the new norm. It’s our new way of doing business. All of us embrace it. Even when we publicly shy from it, we privately crave it. We downright love it. I don’t know exactly when it happened or how it ultimately came to be, but we’re all extremists now. You may not think you’re one, but you are. We all are.

In our newfound love of extremism, we have come to loathe anything resembling moderation. It’s probably not a far stretch to say that moderation is a word nobody knows the meaning to anymore. It’s anathema to us – in our politics and our theology. To take a moderating stance on something – to compromise on anything, no matter how insignificant or small – is a sign of weakness and an indication that you do not truly stand for what you say you do. So, our politicians and our theologians now ostracize all those that do not conform with what they think is right, with what they claim to be true. And we – citizens and laymen alike – join them in this new reality. We embrace their extremism and call it our own.

There are voices of moderation out there. Some call for civility in our political and theological dialogues. They are not afraid to acknowledge that sometimes they are wrong – that the argument they made did not measure up to scrutiny. Some are willing to sit down with those with whom they disagree. They are willing to first seek to understand and then explore every possible scenario by which compromise might be made. To moderate their position, even to adjust it, does not frighten them. It’s why they are moderates. It’s in their political and theological DNA.

But not most of us. Most of us are extremists. We either accept or reject. We support or oppose. We do not moderate.

Consider your own political views. What do you think of President Trump? Where are you on the healthcare debate happening this week in the United States Senate? What are your opinions on the budget and tax debate that Congress will take up when it returns from its summer recess? Do you think the Attorney General and Special Prosecutor should remain in their jobs?

Consider your own theological beliefs. What do you think of the denomination or religious body that you are a member of or with which you affiliate? What do you think of its leader(s)? Where are you on the pressing theological questions that organization is addressing? Have you made peace with how your religious body deals with some of today’s most debatable issues?

In either the political or theological realm, are you willing to consider any voice of opposition? Are there any situations by which you would moderate your position or be accepting of your party or religious body moderating theirs?

Or are you an extremist, unwilling, under any circumstances, to consider that you might just be wrong – that your position might need even the smallest adjustment or change? Are you open to dialogue or moderating your opinion? Or have you joined the throngs of political and theological voices that see no value in compromise and remain steadfastly committed to their views – no matter how the extreme they may be?

6 thoughts on “We’re All Extremists Now

  1. I disagree with your assumption and generalization about many of us being “extremists.” I know I am not an extremist in my politics, social values, or spiritual beliefs. I know many people who are really quite moderate and thoughtful, even in this climate of political frenzy and social upheaval. The whole purpose of education is to weigh facts and use reason when discerning our positions and views, and even in our passionate responses, they also must be weighed in the balance. I think you are correct in that some people are extremists in their views, failing to use their faculties and attempt to be critical thinkers. The Christian must strive to avoid extremism, and develop a sound mind in the Lord.

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    1. John, that’s a fair rebuke (pointing out that I call everyone an extremist). But, I was just trying to make a point. Nonetheless, your comments are well received.

      I also think there is a growing group of moderate voices that I hope will become more vocal and prevalent in the months ahead.

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  2. A question: Is moderation agreeing occasionally, even if your are convinced there is harm in agreeing; or is moderation willingness to have a conversation to come together to the truth? Naturally, willingness to have an actual conversation would have to include the possibility of being wrong in some aspect – or else there is no actual conversation. Although I noticed the generality of your comments as to who is extreme; still I ask are only conservatives extreme?

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    1. Don, conservatives most assuredly are not the only extremists. Liberals and others are equally to blame. I don’t have in mind any particular group here.

      As I’ve noted in previous posts, I’m much more willing to compromise on the political front. Theological compromise gets a little tricky at times, but still, I think we can do better at dialogue.

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    2. I think one can be liberal leaning or inclined to be conservative without conforming to an “extremist” label on either end of the curve. One can be liberal on specific issues and conservative on others. It can depend on the topic. I think that is where some of us fall. I lived in Arizona from 2008-2015. With a population of about 6 million residents, the voter breakdown consisted of 1 million registered Republicans, 900,000 registered Democrats, and about 1 million independents. Seemed to me that moderates were a third of the voting population. Even so, Republicans won more elections because they were not “extremists” and were fiscally responsible when it came to budgets and spending. The Democrats, on the other hand, seemed to push for illegal immigration, open borders, LGBT privileges, sanctuary cities, and overspending on social programs. Where then…are the real “extremists?” Sometimes conservatives in theological areas, as well as in social and political circles, are wrongly accused of being “extremists,” when they are, in fact, just advocating for common sense and rational policies.

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      1. John, it’s ironic that one of the issues with extremists is that they are so quick to call those who oppose them extremists! Point well taken. Thanks!

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