This is my first post for 2008. People typically have hopes and good wishes for a new year, and I certainly have those; however, numerous topics have been swirling about within my head since I started writing again last week, and this is what I've selected - extremism.
In many ways, the 21st Century has begun as a time of extremism. We're witnessing a growth in strength of all sorts of extremists in the world: religious, political, and nationalist among the most prominent. Islamic extremists have grabbed a major share of the headlines, but we shouldn't overlook the historic importance of the others.
To the religious extremists I have to say that your actions demonstrate the flaws of your beliefs. You jihadists who kill randomly with no regard for human life are not doing holy acts - you are the worst kind of murderers, and are despicable people who rain discredit upon your professed religion. You politicians who act "according to god's will" (yes George, including you) use the cloak of godliness to violate basic principles of humanity, wreaking havoc within your own jurisdictions and beyond. Those of you who find it acceptable to violate the human rights of others (women, homosexuals, "the other") because "the bible says it is so" go beyond acceptable in meddling where you shouldn't.
To you political extremists, both here in the USA and abroad, history will show you for what you truly are. Your use of fear and hate have brought ruin to many millions of human lives and whole societies. You care not what methods you employ to advance your extremism; you lie and cheat and pose enemies and call names - anything and everything to advance your extremist agendas.
To nationalists, at all levels, your short-sightedness poses doom for humankind. Included here are local, tribal, regional and national identifications that promote unity and hatred against "the others" because they are not you. These concepts of identification belong in the dustbin of history.
There are many unifying themes in the world today, important discussions and actions that we, as humankind, need to have. But you extremists are bent on preventing unification because your way is the only way. Can we humans get beyond primitivism? By this I mean the self-centered identifications and agendas that keep us at each others throats. On the scale of history, these are petty, meaningless things that serve no purpose for the future. Listen to the news - understand the world. Humanity has changed the physical nature of our planet's climate; we have overgrown our capacity to feed ourselves; we are rapidly losing the best and most valuable parts of the natural world out of greed; and we continue to kill each other for reasons that are beyond comprehension.
I dream of a time of great change - a global epiphany if you will - during which humankind comes to its senses and truly understands the concepts of cooperation, sustainability, respect and yes, love. Unfortunately, I know that this is most likely just a dream.
Happy New Year.