Extremism and Critics
Our critical friend disagrees with me on extremism and says that the true extremist stands in the middle.
It sounds like he is being contrary to be contrary again. Tell me this. How could anyone following the Middle Way see an extremist who cuts off an innocent victim’s head off with a dull knife while praising Allah as a person who is in the middle?
I attempt to stand in the middle and see these people, as well as snake handlers on the Christian side, as extremists. If you want to call them as standing in the middle you may be the first one on the planet to do so. I do not think that even these extremists see themselves as in the middle, though it is true that as the pendulum swings, people point to all points on it and make accusations of extremism.
Next he claims that everyone sees themselves as in the middle.
I think a lot of extremists see themselves as being in the extreme, but for a good cause, of course.
Take Barry Goldwater who said: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
He was seen as an extremist by most Democrats and he happily admitted to it.
Before moving on I thought I would attempt to teach a principle that my critics would be wise to incorporate.
Principle: It is easy to destroy, but difficult to build.
This principle applies when dealing with the various teachings available.
Notice that my recent critic takes my words and tries to destroy their meaning rather than to look for the truth therein and build upon that.
Just imagine if he sat at the feet of Jesus and challenged him as he does me.
Jesus: Love your enemies.
Critic: This is nonsense. Why do you think you have enemies? Enemies and friends are two sides of the same coin. There are no enemies for all things are pure.
Jesus: Blessed are the pure in heart.
Critic: Nonsense again. We are all pure in heart. No one is impure.
Jesus: Deliver us from evil.
Critic: You are a false teacher Jesus. There is no evil except for what is in your mind.
Jesus: The father waits for the prodigal son to return.
Critic: Nonsense again. The prodigal son never left.
Jesus: The truth shall make you free.
Critic: What truth? You are only looking at one side and see half the truth. You need to listen to me to get the other half.
Jesus: Blessed are the merciful
Critic: We are all merciful and all blessed. There is no need to call for a blessing that has already been meted out.
Jesus: Go the extra mile.
Critic: There is no such thing as an extra mile. The infinite is found in one mile.
Jesus: Sin no more.
Critic: There is no sin, no evil and no good. They are all one.
Jesus: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Critic: Wrong message. God’s will is already done everywhere.
I think we get the point here. There is no master, no teacher or wise man who is capable of uttering words that cannot be attacked. It is the easiest thing in the world to take any words, even the words of the greatest of us all, and declare them to be wrong by the use of sophistic logic.
It is another matter still to look for the truth behind those words and add additional light.
Let me issue a call to the group to do the latter. Sure, if I make a blatant error point it out. Assaf does this quite successfully with my Hebrew while still seeing the good, the beautiful and the true. We find what we are looking for. Let us look for the true with more attention than the false so in the light we can see more light.
Let me give the group my philosophy on how I react if I see something I consider negative from another person.
No matter how dumb the statement I never call the person stupid, dumb, ignorant, boring etc. Neither do I call any person a derogatory name or use a swear word directed at them.
Instead, what I do is to isolate the statement or philosophy that may show some ignorance and comment and elaborate on that.
For instance, a very intelligent person may utter a dumb statement. If I criticize such a statement, I am only criticizing a non-entity, not the person himself. Such a dumb thought may count for less than one percent of his thinking process, the rest of which could be brilliant.
I think you can go over the millions of words I have written and do not think a reader can find one direct insult I have ever made to a reader. Instead, if I have a criticism, I will isolate his or her words and analyze them.
That said, let me again offer a piece of advice I have given many times to those who criticize me.
Please argue with what I do say; not with what I have not said.
Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger. Franklin P. Jones
July 2, 2006
Copyright by J J Dewey
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