PHILIP'S BLOG: Everyone is an extremist
BY PHILIP PATSTON
Much has been said about the follies of extremism since the Christchurch mosque terror attacks on 15 March. It's been linked to terrorism, of course, as well as white supremacy, violence, racism, privilege, bias and many other negative political and behavioural polarities.
I want to make the point though that, in our world, extremism forms much more of our social landscape. In fact, I'd say it's pervasive in just about every human endeavour, and shows itself in both negative and positive ways.
Traditionally and popularly, extremism is linked to negative ideas and behaviour, strong political views, hate speech, senseless violence etc. But is extremism more prevalent than this?
Take climate change for example. Extremist beliefs have us arguing over whether the end of the world is around the corner, or whether it's all a load of "PC" nonsense and there's nothing to worry about.
People take similar extremist positions on landfill and fossil fuels, CO2 emissions and the impact on the ozone layer. Who do we believe and how do we decide. Which books are "right" and which are "wrong".
And look at our education system. My sister and I were talking about her kids who have been identified as pretty bright (one is 2e or twice exceptional). The school's reaction and capacity to deal with this "abnormal" capacity for intelligence is as inadequate as schools' ability to respond to kids with learning delays.
Health is another example of extremist views. We have fast/junk food made as accessible as it possibly could be while, across the road, gyms, health food shops and diet programmes are terrifying us with tales of our inevitable impending doom if we don't exercise and eat the right type and amount of foods.
And be careful – if you drink too much you're an alcoholic but if you don't drink you're a killjoy.
Our justice system is extremist – your innocent until proven guilty but, in the end, you're one or the other. No room for the impact of intergenerational poverty, violence or abuse to explain a lack of judgement.
Good, bad. Right, wrong. Successful, unsuccessful. Worth, unworthy. Rich, poor. Valued, unvalued. Employed, unemployed. Normal, abnormal. Important, unimportant. Safe, unsafe. Cool, uncool. Popular, unpopular.
This is the life we humans have created for ourselves. It's harsh, it's hard, it hurts, it kills. I see no point in trying to change anything until we look beneath it all.
Until we can truthfully say, EVERYONE IS AN EXTREMIST.
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