Extreme actions are the logical extension of extreme beliefs
Mar 17, 2011

Extreme actions are the logical extension of extreme beliefs

It is often the case that people who believe extreme positions are somewhat ridiculed. Especially when they engage in disruptive, in-your-face activism. However, I think in many cases these people are actually just being consistent and have a more appropriate response - given their beliefs - than many of their more passive like minded people. It is the extreme premises that should be rejected beyond those few who actually consistently apply them. 

Take the issue of abortion. If one legitimately thinks that abortion is equivalent to millions of murders of innocent babies then extensive protests and extreme legislation meant to combat it seems like the least you can do.

Or take religion. If one legitimately believes that ones religion provides the exclusive path to an eternity in heaven compared with an eternity burning in hellfire, then a passive, laid back approach hardly seems justified. Having someone proselytize in public locations seems like the first and most trivial of actions to get people on such an enormously important path yet even this is ridiculed as somehow socially extreme by many people. 

What is extreme is not the actions themselves to protest at abortion clinics or push for recruitment to ones religion, it is these actual positions themselves. Taking action is just being consistent with the stated rhetoric and beliefs. To believe an extreme statement such as that abortion is equivalent to millions of murdered innocent children yet to do nothing about it but vote every four years is a wildly inconsistent matching of rhetoric and action. Of course, I certainly don't want these people taking more action, but I would hope they would tone down the rhetoric and extremeness of their positions to match the passive actions. 

This idea also extends for some libertarians. The position that there should be zero or close to zero government is actually the logical conclusion from accepting the single normative claim that freedom from government ought to be the dominant guiding principle of our society. This isn't an extreme conclusion, but a natural conclusion that follows from an extreme premise. In some ways this makes much more sense compared to those who extol the virtues of freedom from government but believe the government should restrict, say, a women's right to her own body. 

This applies conversely to passivity and apathy on the left. People often tacitly support positions that would seem on their face of it to justify considerable action yet actually protesting or otherwise standing up for these beliefs is nonetheless frowned on. 

I don't wish to appropriate blame from, say, the murderer of George Tiller, a doctor who provided abortions, to all people who are against abortions in our society. However, it is worth noting that extreme actions are if not justified in such an extreme case then at least motivated by holding extreme positions which should very much make us question the severity of our beliefs. 

At the very least, toning down our rhetoric to try and match our action would be appropriate. 

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!

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