We just went through an election where our country made choices concerning its government, its relationship with other countries, and its reactions to the domestic and international menaces that threaten it. It seems these days that most Western democratic governments are divided in or around the middle of their main ideologies so they gently totter-teeter back and forth on both sides from election to election. In a way this denotes of a healthy democracy that strives to remain well balanced. The problems happen when we start leaning towards extremes. Some may accuse the government they don’t like of being already extreme, but one’s judgment on what is ‘extreme’ is mainly defined by his own position in the spectrum. In other words, one who is already extreme in his ideology sees a balanced centrist ideology as extreme.
Sometimes we are not happy with the results and choices made by a majority. At that time, the ugly head of extremism raises itself as we start looking at the situation through the lens of ‘them’ and ‘us’, and with ideologies of ‘right and wrong’ or ‘good and bad’. In these latest elections we have heard stories of groups, societies, churches, and families at war with each other. A young man from California reached out to me this week, discouraged because his church and family had told him that anyone who had voted for the candidate he had chosen could not be a Christian. He was receiving warnings about his upcoming presence at their family Thanksgiving dinner. As he asked me what to do, one of the things I told him was that it is generally wiser to stay off the topics or religion and politics during family gatherings.
A friend one day told me that the test of an unbiased attitude is the ability to convincingly argue an opposing opinion. It may not be what we prefer or either believe in, but at least we can see the merits in it. Indeed, even a broken clock is right twice a day. What causes the problem in the inability to agree together is not necessarily that one is right and the other wrong, but that both being so strong in their views are actually right. They are right according to their own perspective, their needs, and their convictions. In extremism, we believe something and make ourselves blind to anything else. Peace in any of the institutions of our society comes when we open our eyes and accept to work with each other in spite of our personal preferences. After all, at the end of the day, we are not the ones who decide on the result of the elections as for good or for bad, God puts in the tie-breaking vote. (Daniel 2:21).
HAPPY THANKSGIVING DINNER. STAY AWAY FROM POLITICS AND RELIGION AND HAVE A GOOD TIME WITH YOUR FAMILIES.
Here is a little poem I learned when I was in India.
Six Blind Men and the Elephant
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation Might satisfy his mind.
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"
The Second, feeling of the tusk
Cried, "Ho! what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up he spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"
The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope.
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
by American poet, John Godfrey Saxe (1816-97)
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