American extremism: In a bad economy, we make it worse by taking sides.
November 25, 2011
Most people (myself included) would like to think they’re open-minded and subsequently put off by those who are not: the arrogant, the dogmatic and the righteous. Those people are the reason our world is so challenged. Those are the ones bringing us down. And, of course, “those people” feel the same way about us.
Them and us are polar opposites. Two distinct sides: liberal & conservative, democrat & republican, right & left. The euphemisms are many. In good times these dichotomies serve like checks and balances, mitigating extremism, keeping society on the beam.
Alas, these are not good times. Righteous anger is overtaking civil discourse. The Occupiers demonize the rich. The 1% shuns the poor. Our President hates America! The GOP candidates are a bunch of idiots! Build a wall around the country! Let everyone in!
I need pause from it all. As a person who fancies himself open minded, I resent being pushed to one extreme or the other. I don’t want to take a side and live or die by it. Why must I choose between Capitalism and Socialism? (If I must, I choose the former. Who, in this country wouldn’t, especially those of us in advertising?) Yet, both ideas are as flawed by extremism as they are brilliant in their idealism.
And speaking of “isms” aren’t they all dangerous?
Take alcoholism. Recovery from this cunning and baffling disease suggests alcoholics practice accepting other people’s defects so that they might diminish their own. “Easy does it” and “One day at a time” are the well-known catch phrases of Alcoholics Anonymous. Resentments of any kind are considered detrimental to recovery.
And so I worry about America’s growing extremism. A program of recovery suggests we “let go of old ideas” even as our politicians become evermore paralyzed by theirs. The holidays are upon us. That means discourse. And next year begins the real Presidential campaign. That means debate. Before taking up sides, I urge each of US to be more accepting of THEM, and vise versa.