Moderation to the Extreme

Have you ever been asked to pick a side between two friends? Or, even worse, between two people who you don’t like at all? I know I have. And every time I am asked to make such a decision, all I can think is “Here we go again!” These decisions always seem to be between two extremely different opinions, and I always, without fail, fall somewhere in the middle. Instead of being an extreme supporter of one of these sides, I consider myself an extreme moderate. (Want to know more about this? Visit this site.)

I have been raised with a disliking, yes, even a hatred, of extremism. Why? Because in most cases, extremist actions only cause damage. History is full of these cases. World War II is the most notable event full of extremely racist and religious beliefs. The millions who were killed or interned, both in Europe and the United States, often did nothing wrong but be of the “wrong” belief system or race. They were killed because of a few powerful extremists.

Extremism is also found in domestic issues, such as the debates today about gay marriage and abortions (For more information about these debates, click on the links!) In both cases, you have extremists on the side of the Church, and extremists on the more liberal side. Both sides point fingers at the other, and both sides scramble for their own victory. From my middle-ground point of view, I think they are both wrong. Both sides have descended to the level of claiming they are right, because others are wrong. I don’t like this black/white point of view. As the famous line goes,

Two wrongs do not make a right!

I believe in the philosophy that everything (or anything) in moderation is better than any extreme. Chocolate is bad if you eat a lot, but a little bit won’t hurt. In fact, it helps your serotonin levels! The same is true of any belief or party system. When you have a few democrats, and a few republicans, a nice balance of views is created.  So instead of creating this huge gap, why don’t we hang out in the middle?

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22 comments

  1. Wonderful use of the comics! They clearly related to your thoughts and added to the overall eye appeal and design aspect. I appreciate the time it took you to find two that fit so seamlessly into the rest of your creation. I would have liked to hear a little more about your view on gay marriage, especially, as one hardly hears someone on the fence about that particular topic. Overall, I enjoyed this post and look forward to hearing more from you!

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    • Thank you for your insightful comment Gabriella!
      It really is true, I am on the fence on the topic of gay marriage. I know my point of view is often called controversial because I don’t agree with either, but I simply believe both parties have good ideas, but have gone about defending their points the wrong way. At least, the extremists, those who get news coverage, do! Some go to the extremes and say “gay marriage is a sin” or call it discrimination to dislike public displays of affection. By doing so, each dismisses the others arguments by attacking the others character, not their actual evidence. In debate, that is called an adhominem, a fallacy that is not an appropriate argument to win a case. In these sort of cases, I prefer to look at the actual arguments and evidence presented, no matter who is saying it!
      Thank you again for asking for more on this.

      Like

  2. Hey,

    My name is Mira and I am from the Oregon Episcopal School. I really enjoyed reading your post and I think you posed a lot of really interesting ideas on extremism! I completely agree with you that extremist beliefs quite often cause conflicts because people are unwilling or incapable to see or try to understand any of the ideas of the opposing side.

    I thought it was really fascinating that you mentioned that you believe it would be beneficial to society for there to be more moderates than extremists. I agree that it is essential to society to have “peace-keepers” or people who moderate conflicts and are able to understand both opinions. However, I can also understand how it is important for people to have passionate beliefs and ideas they support in order to be their own people and make a difference with their life. In fact, many of the most influential, interesting, and successful people in history, Martin Luther King, for example, have had very strong opinions about certain issues and have talked and advertised them very publicly. However, one of the reasons that these people were so convincing and successful was because they were able to understand the ideas of the opposing side and address and counter them. But, to use your example, Hitler was certainly and extremist who had passionate beliefs and acted on them in very horrible ways. So where is the line where passion and strong beliefs become so extreme that people are willing to hurt or insult each other in order to get their points across? Is having a small understand and appreciation of the other opinion enough? I am curious what you think on how much passion is okay and how much is too much. I

    Thanks,
    Mira

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    • Thank you for your comment, Mira!
      How much is too much…what an interesting question. I think the real issue is not really the amount, but what you do with it. As you pointed out, a lot of passion could be a good thing, as was the case for Martin Luther King Jr. Or it could be bad, as Hitler’s passion caused pain and destruction. As I see it, there are two major differences between these two leaders.
      1) MLK Jr, as you pointed out, worked to understand the opposing side’s point of view. Hitler was a successful leader because he understood that people will hear what they want to hear. His regime was filled with examples of not listening to the opposing sides – those who shared often found themselves in the same camps they spoke against.
      2) MLK Jr’s goal was constructive, primarily. He worked to bring more rights to Americans. Hitler’s goal could be seen as constructive for his party, but at the cost of another – I consider his goal more destructive because of this. His passion was spent destroying other points of view, while MLK’s was spent building the confidence of one.
      Thank you for your interesting question!

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  3. KW, you pose a very valid point, extremists can be very bad. I agree with many of your points, I however have rather slightly different opinions the extremist issue. My views are similar to Mira’s in her last comment but have minor yet distinct differences. You talked about extremism being bad, and as a whole I would agree with you on that statement. I think it is important that people have a firm stance on their issues and do not just say, “Well I am in the middle on almost everything.” Democrats and Republicans have a very different opinion on basically every issue however I do not think that is a problem at all. The problem arises when either side refuses to compromise. The beauty of the perfect two-party system is that people have beliefs on either side and then through debate and banter we end up with a healthy middle ground. Since the trend on this blog appears to be gay marriage I will continue with that issue. It is obvious the Democrats are yes for gay marriage and the Republicans are no. So, where is the middle ground on a yes or no question? A possible compromise could be, “You know I really dislike gay marriage, however I do not think the government has a right to say they cannot get married therefore it is legal.” Another middle ground could be allowing civil unions but not actually marriage because marriage is considered a holy sacrament and gays can live together but just not get married.
    In conclusion having a firm stance does not create a problem, the problem arises when people are anti-compromise. In politics a Democrat should not look at a Republican idea and immediately say no good just because it is from the other party and vice versa.

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    • Hello David, thanks for your response!
      I agree, the issues arise when people with firm opinions refuse to compromise. I have been annoyed at certain Democrats and Republicans who refuse an idea just because it came from another party. That is part of what I consider extremism. Its not violent at all, but they are so pro-democrat or pro-republican they refuse other ideas.
      What I’ve found is that in these situations, especially with the extreme party members, is that you need someone in the middle ground, a moderate, to mediate between the two. Sort of like the middle child in an argument between the oldest and youngest! The best ideas (or the most innovative) come from the extremists, the best solutions come from compromises between extremes, and the best compromises are helped along by moderates. At least, that’s the way I see it!
      Compromises really are important in any political process. Thank you for mentioning this important topic!

      Like

  4. I really enjoyed the comics in your post. They stood out and caught my attention. I to agree with several things you mentioned in your post. I also agree with David’s post above mine. The problem in my opinion is the two parties can never agree on anything, so that is why we can rarely move forward with new ideas. It’s a shame Democrats and Republicans can’t get along better because I believe that would be a big step in fixing our nations problems.

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    • I definitely agree, Skylar. Things would be better, or at least go smoother, if people were willing to compromise! Unfortunately, that extremism makes it difficult to look past different opinions and see the idea behind them. As I said above, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more moderates or independents involved, just to be the bridge between sides!
      Thank you for your comment, Skylar!

      Like

  5. KW,

    I wholeheartedly agree with your idea that neither extreme is good. Unfortunately, our current government seems to be doing exactly that- going to both extremes without any compromises. On the note of the Church being against Gay rights, I just want to point out that not all churches are against gays and lesbians- my local church actually supports them and the pastor is gay. I sort of disagree with the other David’s comment that it is good that Democrats and Republicans have opposite views on everything; nothing gets done and because of the extreme natures of both parties, neither really compromises.

    -David (from OES)

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    • Thank you for your comment (other) David! You are correct, I should have specified the Catholic church. I realize now that other, less conservative church groups probably have different views than the ones I hear every Sunday! As I replied to the other David, it is usually a good thing to have a few moderates in the mix, just to provide some middle ground, and possibly (emphasis on possibly) some results.
      Thank you for replying!

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      • KW,

        No problem, thanks for putting up a good post! You’re right, it is good to have some moderates in the mix– more than a few I should think. Otherwise not much gets done…
        Though neither extreme is good, there should always be a few people that lean one way or the other so that some different perspectives pop up on issues. But these people should not be in the “extreme zone” where people get zoned in on one thing and will not even consider any other idea.

        -David (from OES)

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  6. Hi KW, I agree that moderation is better than extremism. But I do think that many people, including myself sometimes, are so rooted in their beliefs that it can be extremely hard to let go of your personal morals. In order for everyone to be able to be happy in moderation we need to be able to compromise with each other. What do you think it would take for people to be happy with compromising with the opposition.
    Thanks,
    Shannon

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    • Thank you, Shannon, for your response!
      It’s true, sometimes we are all too stubborn to compromise! However, stubbornness does not always pay off. Sometimes you will only get results by being a little flexible. Sure, that’s painful, but wouldn’t you rather get 20% of what you want than none at all?
      Thanks for the question, Shannon!

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  7. Hi KW,
    I really like your post. I also agree that most things in moderation are best. It is similar to food, for example a moderate bit of sugar is good, but a can of soda is at the extreme side and water at the opposite side. One good thing about extremists is that they help illuminate a certain sides exaggerated point. This can help some middle ground people decide between the two even if they truly favor neither. I think in the case of a presidential election it is one’s duty as an american to vote for who he or she thinks would better lead this nation.

    Thanks,
    Will

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  8. Hi KW, Thanks so much for the response! I agree with the differences you mentioned between MLK Jr and Hitler. Thanks for the insights! – Mira (OES)

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  9. I am a die-hard moderate!!! I am a student of the University of Alabama. I have been assigned your blog for my EDM310 class. I very much enjoyed your blog! Not only is it well written and expressive, but is happens to echo my personal views. Nothing good comes of extreme behavior! Thank you!

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  10. KW,
    Thank you so much for your ideas. I completely agree that there is not always a right and wrong to anything. But especially these situations. When you take sides like you explain, it leads to even power on both sides and can break into violence. With or without violence, it ends up hurting a group even more than necessary. After all they are only opinions, and in most cases the situation and both sides have advantages and disadvantages. I know this sounds cliche, but there are multiple solutions that might not solve the problem, but get both groups closer to both their goals. Using peaceful way in the end also gets us to the goal. Why do you think violence is used now, when in the past the non-violent ways always have the best long-term result?
    Thanks,
    Sarayu

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    • Hi Sarayu,
      Thanks for the question! Violence is definitely the easy answer. Naturally, humans will tend toward eliminating the problem, rather than actually solving it! In the past, non-violent ways have worked, but there are plenty of examples where violence (though not the ideal solution) also worked. This is enough justification for violence when people simply don’t want to learn from history!
      There is probably also a social influence to violence. Don’t we glorify soldiers and war? The US was created with war. The civil rights era was filled with violence. We look toward the past, toward events that we glorify because they greatly influenced our lives today. We imitate the things we admire – if it includes violence, then we might be violent as well!
      Thank you for the insights!
      ~KW

      Like

  11. Hi KW,
    My name is Kayla Johnson. I attend the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed reading your blog post on “Moderation to the Extreme”. I enjoyed it because that is how I am in most cases. Being moderate in my case is “playing it safe”. I am a very safe person, I really don’t express myself much that why I am always agreeing with both sides. I would have liked to hear more about you being on the fence with gay marriage and abortion. With those two I would have to say I agree more with the Church, how about you? It was also nice that you had a working link and two pictures to go along with your blog post topic. Keep up the good work.
    Kayla 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Kayla,
      Thanks for the comment and the question! I personally lean more towards pro-choice and gay marriage, but it all depends on who’s asking. That is, I agree both sides have good points, but I actually lean away from both when they start infringing on the rights of others. I would prefer it if laws were written to give rights to all, instead of specifying it, which implies that those not specified do not have that right. For example, the legal side of marriage. I personally find the religion-based marriage out-of-bounds for politics to decide, as it is a religious freedom protected in the bill of rights. We should not force others to change their personal views. But there is that other side of marriage, the legal side. Instead of specifying that only a man and woman, or a man and a woman or a gay couple, can get married, why don’t we give the legal benefits of “marriage” to all in a similar situation. After all, the legal side of marriage is living together, working together, going in debt together (if that be the case), etc. Your traditional couple can go through life together. Or a gay couple can. Or a mother and daughter, or brother and sister, or cousin and cousins, without ever having relations. Why are we specifying laws to specific groups of people, instead of giving freedoms to all?
      I suppose the main reason I am a moderate is because both sides are asking the wrong questions!
      Thanks for the question Kayla, hope college is going well!
      ~KW

      Like

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