Extremism Can Corrupt Anything
- Extremism isn't just a religious problem, it can affect anything as the title says.
- The political parties in our country are also prone to extremism
- The extremist forms of any doctrine tend to arise from people twisting words in order to rationalize an otherwise unacceptable agenda.
- Even the the concept of centrism can be made extremist and used to shut out valid but polarized opinions.
I made a post a while back about Atheism and Logic, and in it I talked about how extremism could twist anything to fit its ideals. When I wrote that, I promised the world this essay, and I've been slacking on getting it done. I think a lot of that is because I didn't know how to say what I really wanted to say.
Now, in my other essay a Muslim woman lost her children to a genocide, and I wanted to elaborate on that some.
The genocide is occuring in southeast asia, against a group of Muslims known as the Rohingya. The Rohingya are a persecuted ethnic minority who've been violently evicted from Myanmar by Buddhist extremists. Now, the thought of "Extremist Buddhists" sounds crazy to anyone who knows anything about Buddhism, but the thing people fail to realize is that Buddhist is just a label, and we apply the meaning to it ourselves. What the label "Buddhist" means to me and what it means to you could be two different things based on our own personal understanding of the religion. Christianity and Islam conflict with extremism just as much as Buddhism does, and yet we still have groups like ISIS and the Westboro Baptist Church.
Before we do anything, I wanna define "Extremism". Chances are you most likely associate the word with terrorism and violence. Yes, those are results of extremism, but they aren't the actual issue. Extremism takes a piece of an ideology, pushes it wayyyyy out to one of the extreme ends of the spectrum, and then attacks anything on the other side of the spectrum. For example, on our political spectrum there's libertarians who push "small government" to its most extreme possible conclusion and land on "no government"; they're actually more like anarchists. They think "freedom" means "laws aren't valid", so they attack any semblance of the legal system. (I actually started out in this camp as a young man)
The left also has an extreme end that we rarely hear about who seek a Marxist revolution and want to seize the means of production. They believe in government so big it becomes an older sibling, and they attack anything that smells like it could have been somewhere close to money.
Anything can be pushed out to the edge like that to form of an ideology that's then used to silence voices, kill people, or otherwise suppress the worldview that forms the opposite side of the spectrum from the ideology being manipulated.
In the case of the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, Buddhism is just being used as a scapegoat. I'm not sure which part of the belief system those extremists pulled out of context and corrupted, but ultimately it's all about power. Westboro doesn't want the gays gone because of Leviticus. Gay people disagree with them politically by being in opposition to the theocracy that Westborians envision. ISIS and the Taliban want to control nations, not protect religion. The people leading all these groups are after power; the religious ideologies are an excuse, not a motivation.
This is seen in all things, even outside of religion. You see extremist forms of political ideas like nationalism leading to things like the holocaust. Extremist forms of philosophical ideas cause just as much havocc. People took egalitarianism and corrupted it to create authoritarian "communist" dictatorships. Anything that can be twisted to justify crushing people to take power is gonna be.
Extremism doesn't know religion. It doesn't have a political party. It doesn't care which economic system your country follows. There's punk rock extremists out there who want to kill all country music listeners, just so they don't ever need to hear country again. Extremism takes whatever it can and corrupts it 'cause the things done in its name are unacceptable to people unless it does that.
Now, my beliefs also know no religion, and since I feel they're the "polar opposite" of extremism, I guess I'll throw into the mix here.
I'm a centrist; I believe in not taking sides and forcing a position of neutrality as much as possible. If I end up leaning in one direction or another politically, it's because I've been logically forced to that conclusion. Otherwise, I'll stay out of it and try to keep both sides equally represented as much as I can.
There's places I'm not able to do that obviously, 'cause sometimes one side is objectively correct. A good example is trickle-down economics. We've got *decades* of data proving that it balloons debt while still leading to a deficit. In addition to those objective drawbacks, the money actually trickles up instead of down, which means the system is all cons with no compensatory pros.
However, Centrism also has flaws that I need to remain aware of and factor into my thinking. Similar to how Extremism can be used to shove everything out to an absurd place on the fringes using twisted logic, I tend to pull things into the middle in an equally illogical manner in an attempt to find compromises even when there is an objectively correct stance on one side or the other. Often, I'm doing it to protect some effed up philosophy of mine, and using centrism to blind myself to my own bullshit is something I wish people would call me on more. I also tend to discriminate unfairly against people who fall out on the fringe when in reality, they're interpretation of life is just as valid as my own.
All this adds up, so that even the centrist, hippy dippy, "C'mon guys, everybody deserves love" ideology I spew into the void can be twisted to exclude and oppress people with polarized views.
You can never use your ideology to suppress another person's voice, plain and simple. Even intolerance must be answered with tolerance, otherwise you're being intolerant. It's a logical clusterfuck, I know. You can tolerate someone while still respectfully disagreeing with them. I promise treating them with that respect makes them far more likely to hear you out and maybe change their thinking.