Since the beginning of the human experience, man has professed a desire for peace. In every culture, the evidence of a desire for peace is there. However, the behavior of many, if not all societies past and present have not born out this desire for any sustained period of time. There are always those who will stop at nothing to prevail – often in the name of peace, or worse, God. It is patently obvious throughout history. You would think we’d have learned by now.
It might sound as though this will be just another tirade against the war in Iraq or this president and the neo-cons that put us there. True, there is a wealth of evidence that this is yet another example of war in the name of peace, but there is another side to the coin. There are those who are so fervently against this war that they have dug their feet into an ideology that opposes that of the other side so completely that they are defined by who they are against rather than what. Peace cannot exist without tolerance; it does not live in the same house as obstinacy and dies in the face of arrogance – however well intended.
Ultra right-wingers have much in common with those who take up the ultra left. Neither wants anything to do with bi-partisanship unless it furthers his or her side’s agenda. Of course, this kind of winner-take-all compromise is rare – usually for a true compromise to occur, each side must give up something. Those on the extreme edges of the continuum will hear nothing of it. A moderate is a traitor; neither liberal nor conservative, they are Democrat or Republican in name only – a necessary evil that must be tolerated to have the necessary numbers for there to be any chance of forwarding the extremist's agenda. It is an agenda that is not negotiable.
A freethinker, a moderate or -gasp- an independent has the ability to pick and choose. He or she is not bound by ideology… not blinded by arrogant obstinacy. There is always room for negotiation and a free exchange of ideas is encouraged, never feared. There is no shame in compromise and no weakness in acknowledging the positive in a rival. The ego is never on the table. In an arena that is expected to produce the best possible outcome for all, diplomacy by steamroller is never an option. Even when the debate involves an issue as volatile as war, there is room for good faith – principles should still triumph over personalities.
Unfortunately, the extremist will never hear this. It is all or nothing and nothing is for idiots and losers. The current administration has used this ideology of aggression under the shroud of peace to create a war that is nothing short of disastrous. However, the ultra-liberal contingency isn’t helping. It will take a rational, measured and bi-partisan effort to extract us from this mess. It will take intelligence to deal with the aftermath and no one person or party has all the answers. We don’t even know all the questions, yet there are those who are so adamant, who just know what is right that they will shout down anyone who isn’t in lock step with them.
I prefer to think for myself.