Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What are Extreme Perspectives?

A reader had emailed me stating that my views were extreme while my blog lead was about rational perspectives in a world that screams in extremes. So what are extreme perspectives and what is rational? It seems to me that the world has changed in what is considered "normal" during my 54 years here that what was considered moderate in 1960 is now extreme.

  • If you believe in God and want to preserve Christian religious beliefs, you are extreme
  • If you don't accept global warming as a proven fact you are a "denier" with extremest views
  • If you are Patriotic - you have extreme views
  • You have normal views if you believe the US is a greater threat to world peace then Iran
  • If you believe marriage is between a man and a woman you have extreme views
  • If you think that "evil" exists you are an extremest
  • If you think that there are differences between men and women that prevent one sex from doing everything the other does, you have extreme views
  • If you think some wars are justified or you have the right to defend yourself, you are an extremest
  • If you say anything politically incorrect (e.g. Islamist radicals are Fascists) you are an extremest, but if you say the President of the US is a Fascist and should be killed, you are normal

I read an interview with Michael Crichton in which he responds to the following question:

What is the most serious threat facing our civilisation?

"Loss of classical liberal values in those western societies that embraced them. England was the first modern state, the first superpower, the first nation to deal with moral issues around the world, and the first nation to install the benefits of what we might now loosely term a liberal society. I mean that in the 19th century sense of liberalism. That notion of liberalism was also present in America, but made it to the Continent only in a pale and limited form. It is a wonderful social conception that must be vigilantly guarded. It is not shared by other nations in the world. Nor is it shared by many citizens in English-speaking countries. Peculiarly, many of our most educated citizens are least sympathetic to classical liberal ideals. Indeed the term 'liberalism' in the modern day has come to imply a constellation of attitudes that John Stuart Mill would not recognize as liberal at all. Nor would, say, John F. Kennedy recognize them as liberal. Kennedy's conception of liberalism was simultaneously more tolerant and more tough minded: tolerant about varieties of behavior within the society, and tough-minded toward threats to a tolerant society from without.

That's all gone, now. Today there is far too much sensitivity within societies, and too little hard-nosed recognition of threats from without. We are inclined to be intolerant of speech by our friends and neighbors, and tolerant of beheadings, rape, and homophobia in distant lands. This makes no sense. But here we are."

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