Stop fighting extremes with extremes.

Posted Aug 28, 2017

Stop fighting extremes with extremes. It always backfires. Hate is not the answer, but neither is love. Pretending love is the answer fuels the hate-is-the-answer extremists because it's so extreme and unrealistic and makes you look a fool. Just like their "hate is the answer" looks to you.

Love is the question. Has to be. The more you love one thing the more you loathe the opposite. If you love equality, you hate inequality. And don't mince words about it.

We don't just have to get along with each other. We have to get along with bedrock reality and the bedrock where the living meet it is not moral principles but moral dilemmas: What among the options available is the best bet?

Reality's bedrock is not whatever extreme and simplistic principle you identify with. The bedrock rocks back and forth. It tips us toward loving some things and hating others.

Identifying with moral principles is often simply overcorrection, taking an overstep in the right direction. You were too loving, you got burned, and now you think hate is the answer. You were too hateful, you got burnt and now you think love is the answer.

Maybe if you chant "love is the answer" you can nudge yourself toward being a little less hateful. More likely your oversimplification will stunt your growth on the real question: What to love; what to hate?

With reality confronting us with dilemmas like what to hate and what to love, we can't actually live by whatever principles we identify with. We can only pretend we live by them. Pretending, we end up mangling definitions. "You're wrong. I do so live by love is the answer. I wasn't hating those guys I was just lovingly suppressing the forces of evil. That's different."

Hard right: Tough is the answer.

Hard left: Love is the answer.

Hard center: Tough love is the answer.

Hard choices: Tough love is the question.

This applies not just to love and hate, but all extremes, open-mindedness vs. closed-mindedness, tolerance vs. intolerance, caring vs. not caring, the courage to try to change things vs. the serenity to accept things. The question isn’t whether to always have one or the other in the pair but when to do which.

Indeed you can’t have one without the other. Just like loving something is hating its opposite. Loving someone is hating their disappearance. It’s reflexive like your triceps and biceps.

Likewise, the courage to change things is acceptance of your standards as unchangeable. The serenity to accept things is the courage to change your standards. That’s why we quest for the wisdom to know the difference between things worth and not worth trying to change.

So again, stop swaggering about having found the extreme solution. You’re only kidding yourself and stunting your own cultivation of the wisdom to know the differences that make a difference.