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Gee: Our very personal relationship with ‘extremism’

It seems that lately, a word I keep hearing over and over is “extremism.”

I heard it again today. And in my own head I tried to think of what this word actually means, versus how it is presented to us on TV. It seems to me that extremism, in many forms, is what is ruining the world. Too much of one thing is bad for anyone.

Side note: What’s the deal with eggs now? Is too much eggs bad for us? It seems to change everyday. OK, back to what I was saying.

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Depending on how you think, some things may not seem extreme to you. And that is OK. But let’s reflect a little bit on some things we see every day on whatever news channel we watch.

How is it that the actions of a small group of terrorists, mostly from Saudi Arabia, have people calling Muslims from different nations, and from different branches of Islam “extremists?” And further prompting debates over whether or not they should come to our country?

How is it that a Central American street gang from Los Angeles primarily made up of Salvadorians has us talking about erecting a massive wall between our neighboring nation?

How come when a person is shot by a police officer we rally together to hate law enforcement as a whole?

Why do we assume that anyone who voted for Donald Trump absolutely has to be a racist?

How come there is a belief that people of color commit more crimes than white people?

Why do we completely dismiss a person because we disagree with each other on one topic — like abortion, same sex marriage, guns, immigration, or foreign policy? If I left something out, it wasn’t intentional. But I could go on and on. These are merely a few examples of extremism.

I think extremism is fueled by two things: misinformation and ignorance.

When ignorant people allow themselves to be fed misinformation, they react in ways that are beyond unpredictable. This is why we see a guy grinning while flashing an OK symbol at cameras after killing 50 people. This is why we see people chanting some of the most hateful and ignorant things to rally for their causes. This is why we so quickly jump to conclusions when we see articles from a source we already know is giving us information from only one side of an opinion.

Face it, we all lean one way or another. But most of us are able to go to work together, ride the bus together, or have a civil conversation with one another.

And then there are the extremists.

Could you imagine a world where we were afraid of all the white people out there because most mass shooters are white? We already have been through this one way or another for centuries.

The Crusades were a series of wars between Christians and Muslims that went back as far as 1096 AD. Both sides were extreme in their opinion. They fought to the death over the same territory, because each believed their way was right and the other was wrong.

We all have a duty to confront, expose, and condemn extremism when we see it because it doesn’t do anyone any good. Even if it kind of, sort of, aligns with who we are and what we believe. If we let extremists define us, then we have lost the ability to be individuals with unique ideals and beliefs.

We’d just be cults, cliques, clans, and exclusive clubs. Not a community.

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