Friday, August 2, 2013

The Militant Moderate


Pity the poor moderate, the weak underbelly of every great cause. He lacks the courage to stand up for his own convictions.  He does not promote the principles he claims to believe. He is in our cause but not of it, an embarrassment to all true believers. He never understands that a cause does not succeed until its resolute leaders eliminate from it all those middle-earth creatures who refuse to be either fish or fowl.

That is now the way of defining anyone unfortunate enough to be called "a moderate." It is a label of immanent political death. Few there be who claim it. Woe to those who confesses it. 

Nonetheless, I do claim it; willingly, proudly, and tenaciously.  I am, one might say, a militant moderate.

I say moderation has been maligned! I deny it is a weakened version of any thing else. I claim that moderation is its own philosophy. It is not an infection of pathological cold feet one acquires while reaching for something else. It is a deliberately cultivated attitude, an intentionally formed view of reality, and a chosen type of character. Moderation is, for self identified moderates, the Aristotelian ideal of existential balance and the holy grail of the eternal Tao.

Moderation is a quest for wisdom rather than for power. It is hunger and thirst for common sense. It is the belief that healthy community contains difference. It is curiosity about the unknown. It is civility, grace and respect. It is a repulsion of those great ones who know all and who never doubt their own rectitude.  It is a repudiation of pomposity and grandiosity. 

Moderation is a demand to know and to converse with one's adversaries. It insists on treating one's opponents with respect. It finds the dishonorable and unreasonable proponents of one's own camp more embarrassing than the honorable and reasonable proponents of the opposition. 

Moderation is a vote for civilization. It is a vote against ideological terrorism.  It holds down the essential center.

It resists the knuckle brain notion that there are only two sides of an argument. It is a realization that if everyone in a boat moves to the same extreme, the boat will sink. 

The Christian moderate understands he is beholding to neither liberalism nor fundamentalism. He does not equate orthodoxy with theological brainwashing. He shares liberal concerns but disagrees with liberal solutions. He shares conservative concerns but sometimes disagrees with conservative methods. He denies that the end ever justifies the means because he knows that the means employed always forms the end achieved. He strives to live in peace with all as much as lies within him. 

The moderate resists prepackaged opinions. He demands the right to participate in the construction of his own viewpoints. 

Despite these advantages, moderation has its drawbacks. 

A moderate may get lonely during election years. He may be a disappointing guest for for a talk show host.

Nonetheless, the moderate gains the freedom to think his own thoughts. He gradually learns to offer actual opinions rather than borrowed clichés. However, he avoids the futility of exchanging ideas with the already convinced. Such habits lead him to conversation partners who, like him, want to become real individuals rather than parrots or tape recorders. 

The moderate's most important reward though comes when he inherits the earth. He knows that this outcome is inevitable. Because, after the radicals kill each other, there will be no one else left to claim it. 

1 comment:

Bob Hartline said...

I recently started studying logic and it has confirmed that I too am a moderate. It is almost impossible to follow the rules of logic and not be a moderate because one is forced to justify in a systematic way how you have arrived at your conclusion. I also feel this is the greatest failing of the American educational system. Students are are not taught, nor given the opportunity to develop communication skills that allow them to carry on meaningful conversations with their peers or adults.