Absolutes often lead to dangerous results

info@islandpacket.comJanuary 9, 2013 

Some people believe they have the only right answer to any question. Whether that answer comes to them from a religion or from a secular creed, they cling to it inflexibly and regard any compromise as a pact with the devil. Their dogmatism is paralyzing our political process.

For example, some elected leaders argue that no taxes should be raised on anyone, no matter how dangerous the deficit becomes.

Often it's those same leaders who say no restrictions should be put on the firepower available to private citizens, no matter what carnage results.

And it's largely these same leaders who say no woman should ever have an abortion, no matter what her circumstances may be.

The list of dubious certitudes continues: Global warming is a hoax, evolution is a lie, the free market is the best solution for every social problem. Zealots loudly affirm all three of these beliefs, despite the preponderance of evidence and reason against them.

Throughout history, zealous men of principle have inflicted some of humankind's most grievous wounds, for example, burning heretics and witches, enslaving and slaughtering supposed subhumans and murdering millions of political dissidents.

Before we Americans descend to that level of tragedy, might we agree to doubt our own infallibility and to re-examine the case for our own convictions? Might we try to understand the arguments of those who disagree with us? We might regain respect for a basic requirement of constructive politics -- the ability to compromise.

Raymond Dominick

Bluffton

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