A Manifesto for the Unextremist
Joel Eschenbach • July 16, 2017
A few thoughts (and a bunch of rhetorical questions) about politics, success, and faith...
We don't see clocks with pendulums much these days, but we're all too familiar with the swing. There's not a better analogy than that of the pendulum to show our human tendency to jump to extremes - from one end to the other. I get it, it's easier for our brain to understand the world if we can classify everything into nice, neat categories. Some would even argue that it's an evolutionary survival technique to determine what's good or bad, who's in or out, or what's safe or unsafe. That's fine, but I get sick of the extreme labeling.
Let's look at politics...
Conservatives by definition hold to traditional attitudes and values and are cautious about change or innovation.
Liberals by definition are open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.
But aren't we all "conservative" in some area of our lives (holding on to traditions and values)?
And aren't we all "liberal" to some extent (open to new ideas and opinions in some areas)?
Does it really have to be one OR the other? Can it be both?
How about success...
Does success take just discipline, or is there a little bit of luck, chance, or "blessing" involved?
Can't I be an expert and also be ignorant?
Is pure creativity enough or do I need to look at the practical side of things?
I can make plans, but isn't there also a time to "wing it"?
What about Faith?
Does it have to be at odds with science? Am I either an Atheist if I believe in evolution or an Evangelical Christian if I believe that God created the world? Is there any in-between?
On a side note, I'm worn out of the term "Evangelical". It started out referring to "Good News" but it's been politically hijacked. I'd personally rather be known as a follower of Christ. Because no matter what you believe, Jesus is an example that all of us can learn something from. He was peaceful, passionate, cared for the oppressed, and gave his life for others.
We're all on a journey. Mine has been one of leaving fear and the fear-based ideas that the world is falling apart and moving away from some "nostalgic", puritanical age that never actually existed. I believe there's a divine source, a ground of being pulling the universe forward, not biting his nails or angrily hoping that humanity will just go back "the good ole days".
For those of us who believe in a divine being, we must also believe that this God is not surprised by who we are and where we're headed. Divinity is not at odds with science but welcomes it with open arms. Questions, doubts, anger, fear, misunderstanding, failure, new ideas, traditional ideas, spirituality, and realism are all welcome to a God who created all of it to begin with.
We love the swinging pendulum of life as long as it stays on one side or the other (usually the side we’re most comfortable with). It’s either practical or spiritual, hard work or luck, divine blessing or hustle, strategic planning or happenstance. We hate the in between. The place between who we are and who we want to be. Between the world as it is and as it should be.
But the place between is where we spend our days. I believe there’s something to that tension. These are the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head and heart for years, so about 8 months ago, I decided to start putting them out into the world.
As tough as it is not to polarize, I think a lot of people are on middle road just trying to find their way.
Who's with me?