Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Food for Thought: Unity

Earlier this week, I was thinking about the fact that the most popular right-wing bloggers and media personalities (moreso in American circles) are those who have the most sensationalistic, hateful, vitriolic and divisive rants in order to grab the spotlight away from the more moderate conservatives amongst us - that invisible but far more representative population that is more likely to be open to real dialogue in order to actually work towards healing and compromise than those who get the most attention.

That's unfortunate.

But, as we saw in the last American elections, those invisible people can and do make a substantial difference in the shape of their democracies. They reject extremism in any form: religious, political, intellectual and emotional. Unlike their loudmouthed competitors, they truly want a system and a country that works for as many people as possible. They're more tolerant of those who are 'different'. They do not live in the fear and terror that so grips people like Malkin, Coulter or Limbaugh who are afraid of their own shadows (literally and metaphorically).

We liberals may have our political differences with the conservatives but the majority of them are actually willing to listen and talk to us when it comes to dealing with issues like human and civil rights and justice. And we are bound together when it comes to preferring a peaceful, harmonious society to one that is so divided by ugly untruths that cause things like war, torture and powermongering.

We all have one aim: to live our lives in productive and meaningful ways. The challenge comes when we must decide how that works best for everyone. That's where we differ but, even there, we are not so far apart that we cannot work together towards that end. History has proven that it's possible. It's been hard to remember that in the corrupted political climate that has been far too pervasive recently.

America has now reached a point where the extremists of all stripes have lost. They're definitely still there and will keep shouting their platforms from the rooftops - doing their damage as they are so apt to, but their power has been seriously diminished and fewer people are taking them seriously. Even those among such radical political schools of thought like neoconservatism have admitted that their ideas have failed. They have been defeated - and rightly so. Societies cannot suffer fools like that gladly for any extended period of time without cracking at the foundations. Too often the ideology that fuels extremism is simply not based in reality. It is based on force and wild ideas that may seem attractive to some but, as we have seen, offers no practical solutions for the majority of citizens to exist in any form of cohesiveness or unity.

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
- Plato

Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light.
- Plato

The tensions of these times are far from being over, but the spirit of people who truly want to move forward in genuinely effective and thoughtful ways has won the day. It's now time to build on that victory and to leave behind those who continue to choose to live in darkness, even in the face of the brilliant light that they deny even exists.

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