Thursday, December 07, 2006


How to tell an extremist on any issue?
1. Religious faith.

Let's start with religious faith. Ask the believer to tell you three failures, Three large or terrible errors, worthy of moral condemnation, that their own side has made in history. This applies to biblical fundamentalists, charismatic evangelicals. or Catholic fundamentalists, and other points of view in between. Actually it applies to other extremist positions also, as Rabbi Lener points out, for example in the Jewish - Palestinian conflict. Or the Islamic - West conflict. And I believe this measure also can apply among Conservatives and Liberals in the USA. But to start with, let's stay with religious belief, as this conflict may be the most serious for our civilization today. And this discussion can prove a model for others.

If a person cannot tell you one serious error in the history, past or present, of their point of view,, they are blind to the historical reality of their point of view, in the arrogant human mis-use of that view, and the enormous suffering that has caused many persons. They are of "You are for us or against us" crowd.” You are part of the Out crowd. No further constructive dialogue is possible, and you can save yourself time and effort in trying. Your attempts will be judged by what key or code words you use that can identify you. That is to say, there is a language you have to have learned to speak to be identified as "one of them."

If they can tell you one serious error, then begin by admitting two serious errors of the other side, and see if they might admit one more, but realize that only a slight chance of this exists. They may not be entirely close-minded, but potentially curious.

If they can admit two serious errors of their side, genuine conversation is possible that might be a starting point for productive exchange of different points of view. . There is a moderate chance they are thinking persons who are passionate but not close-minded. Be ready to admit flawa and falures in the other side.

However, if they can admit three failures of their side, then they are open to constructive dialogue. A genuine exchange of points of view and further understanding of each other's views is very possible. It can truly become educational for both parties. They are likely to become friends.

Cautions: Be wary of generalizations. All people versus some people. Beware of stereotyping and categorizing those who differ or who hold different points of view. We are all incomplete and imperfect human beings, struggling to find sanity, meaning and love and balance in a crazy world. Remember, also it is only in stretching ourselves that we grow.

Please recognize that some people must always be right, can never be wrong. Their mind set is often: "When I sam sincere, I cannot be wrong." Their blindness to themselves can force those who live with them to live a secret life.

Discussion invited.
Paschal Baute, December 7, 2006
An anniversary never to be forgotten.