Why Does Extremism Endure In Our World?

Avner - Los Angeles, California
Entered on February 3, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: tolerance

I’ll use a computer analogy to make my point. If you load a computer up with a word processing software program, there are things you can do to customize the program. You can create macros, customize the menus, or change some preferences. But, in essence, the software is what dictates what the computer will enable you to do!

Since a computer is limited by its software, if the only program loaded on it is a word processing program, the only thing you’ll be able to do with it is create & edit documents.

Hence, if the only system of belief a person is taught from birth is to worship a potato, and that anyone who doesn’t do the same is their enemy, then the only thing that person will know to do, is to worship a potato and attempt to eradicate the enemy.

Sure, you can change their accent, put them in different clothes. You can even write a constitution stating that “all men are created equal”. However, given the limitations of their software, it is unlikely they will do anything other than what their software allows them to do.

If this software was pirated and passed on from generation to generation, we end up with Jewish zealots who believe that God promised them 40 virgins, or Muslims that believe they are “The Chosen People” & that Palestine was given to them as a reward for wandering through the desert for 40 years & as such, Christians who believe that a Jew was put on the cross to absolve their sins and anyone who believes otherwise isn’t going to be let into the promised land after they parish. All of this is done in the name of an entity that has more names than extremists have original thoughts.

There are some possible solutions….

It is up to the leaders of more moderate ideologies to convince extremists that henotheism is not a denial of their own faith but simply the acceptance that others may believe in a different god or worship their god in a different way. After all, millions of people on the planet coexist in relative peace; could all of them be wrong?

Teach tolerance, teach unequivocal equality, and teach that differences are the fruit that make the salad. Teach young minds to accept differences in belief systems as they would accept differences of opinion. & perhaps in as many generations as it has taken us to get to this juncture we may see a humanity committed to peaceful coexistence & the betterment of its planet’s inhabitants.