Extremism vs. Moderation: A Balancing Act

Published October 13, 2015
In August, a child tried to push over a street performer. The performer was standing on a balance board on top of a ball on top of a five-foot high stool. The performer didn't fall, and after finding his balance, called out to the kid, “Hey that wasn’t cool.” Then he said to the kid's parents, “Some people should really use a condom.” Why would that kid do that? Is balance boring? Maybe that’s why we “push things” to extremes. Think about it: Everything in moderation. There’s a happy medium. How dull is that? We prefer extreme sports, binge drinking, ultra-orthodox and radical feminism. We polarize ideas and fight for absolutes: Nature vs. Nurture Liberals vs. Conservatives Eastern Medicine vs. Western Medicine Phonics vs. Whole Language Vegans vs. Zealous Carnivores Versus or vs. means against, which implies a fight, or hostility towards. And in a fight there is always a winner and a loser, someone who is right and someone who is wrong. So is that it, at the base of it all, the need to be right? According to Terry Real, a family therapist, one of the five losing strategies in marriage is the need to be right. (See: When Your Marriage Breaks.) But needing to be right is pervasive in our culture, if not the world. It feels imperative to have a strong, adamant stance, a clear point of view, or else people will think you’re weak or wishy-washy. Or worse, boring. Ironically, I think it’s more boring to be absolute. For example, take Bill O’Reilly. I’m not making a political statement here. I’m simply talking about one man who always sounds like he’s in a fight with someone, about something. He’s unwavering in defending his perspective, and it’s polarizing. He loses credibility because he’s so extremely resolute. And simply put that’s less interesting, to me, than trying to synthesize opposing ideas, or create new ones. "Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds' wings."                                                                                                                            ~ Rumi
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