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01-23-2011 - Extremism

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Some common definitions of extremism...

  • Any political theory favoring immoderate uncompromising policies
  • Extremism is a term used to describe the actions or ideologies of individuals or groups outside the perceived political center of a society; or otherwise claimed to violate common moral standards
  • Extreme ideas or actions
  • Extremist - a person who holds extreme views
  • Extremist - (used of opinions and actions) far beyond the norm; "extremist political views"; "radical opinions on education"; "an ultra conservative"
  • Literal interpretation and strict adherence to a set of basic principles (usually religious; many can take these beliefs to an extreme and even violent level)

There have always been extremists of various flavors, especially in the religious arena, but today the political and religious landscape is defined by extreme views, even though most folks fall somewhere in the middle.

These extreme views stand out for several reasons. They serve as boundaries and as a reference with which to characterize other views. They are a polarizing influence and ultimately guide the perspective of those leaning in that direction (to varying degrees). The manner in which extremists espouse their views can, in itself, cause undue attention to their views, as in terrorism.

In effect, we have relatively small groups receiving the most exposure. Global communications, the mainstream media and overpopulation seem to have contributed in bringing about this circumstance. The media is always someone's lapdog and it is best to view many sources and make up your own mind. Regarding our own views, it can help to take the time to empathize with, or imagine yourself to be, a person with a particular viewpoint. Grow up as them...live their life in your mind and see if you can gain insight. I mention this just as a check to use to vet our impulsive reactions to stimuli. That being said, someone's actions may be understandable, and they may still be wrong.

Overpopulation is simultaneously the elephant in the room and the emperor without any britches. The propagation of extreme views and the polarization of same are partially due to an apparent threat to a way of life. Some people see their entire universe under threat, and, whether real or imagined, act accordingly. Some people simply need their views to be accepted, period. Add in the limited resources available, and the degradation of these resources, and a runaway train scenario comes to mind. If fewer people inhabited the globe, we might not live in such a contentious manner. Like in so many cases, the most effective solution is also the most remote. Fixing these problems will take time and cooperation, or a lot more room.

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