Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Krista Tippett, on C-SPAN 2, talked about her book, Einstein’s God. Her points were complex and interesting, very non simplistic. Still, she made interesting viewing as she explored the vast ground between the fundamentalist extremists on both poles in the self declared war between the ultra religious and the ultra secular.

I recall a contest in which high school students were asked to make speeches responding to and defending their positions when answering the question, “Which is most dangerous, religion or science?” I was long out of high school and so could not participate, but I wished that I could, because my answer would have boiled down to, “Extremism in either is the danger. Neither is dangerous in and of itself.”

In our currently so polarized and emotional nation, it pays to take some time to think and reflect on what we share rather than to obsessively focus on what divides us. Even between Democrat and Republican, Progressive and Tea Partier, there is much more in common than in contrast. Unfortunately, it is easy to deny this. Especially from the right at this time we hear cries about conspiracies to destroy America and etc. Do these individuals really believe that Obama wants his daughters to grow up in an America which he has destroyed? What parent would want such a thing? We may fiercely disagree with how to attain security in this dangerous world, or how to promote American prosperity. but can anyone actually think about the situation and sincerely believe that either of the opponents actually wants to hurt this country?

No one despises Bush more than I do, but I know that he thought he was doing the right thing and was sincerely trying to make America wealthier and safer. The left wing nuts who still insist that he lead a conspiracy to destroy the World Trade Center are simply not thinking clearly.

The problem is, of course, that we are emotional creatures who can, but often do not, use our ability to think. It is so much easier to emote and react than it is to think and plan. Hard work is not always pleasant, though it can be, and thinking is very hard work. The brain accounts for a huge amount of our body’s energy usage--even when we are being emotional. Thinking burns up even more power; and free will can only exist as a result of thought.

I remember, when I was a freshman in high school, becoming angry At Barry Goldwater’s declaration that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” I knew he was wrong, though I had not so thoroughly developed my sense of balance and my opposition to extremism. Today I say, he’s right. It is no vice. It is a mortal sin.

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