The power of an ideology is apparent in world history. In today's world, the power of extremism is ever so present in the politics of the middle east and even in the race for the presidency. Islamic extremism may be the most seen form of it, but staunch views that alienate with no give can be destructive to the process of prosperity. The recent attacks on U.S. consulate not only showcase once again the prevalence, but the sheer impact a minority group can have on the world. Extremism can have the appearance of populism, but rarely the numbers. It can be a blinding thought process that takes advantage of the disadvantaged, and is controlled by narrow minded leaders who are resolute in their mission, even if they are given chance for peace.
Extremism is not limited to a specific region, people or arena. Yet it is not always easy to distinguish the facts and reality from the mask of destruction. It is easy to see the news reels and feeds and think the protest and violence represent a culture because it happens to be the loudest. The loudest is not necessarily the majority, and in a young, start-up democracy, the loudest movement seems to make the first impression. Take the Libyan response to the attack on the U.S. consulate, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens. The Libyan government and people reacted in force in defending the United States.
Time and time again the U.S. congress has locked heads on immigration, health care, taxes and the debit ceiling that lead to a credit downgrade. It is not as though congressional debates are a one-to-one comparison to the killing of innocents, but as the world turns, our influence on others seems as motionless as the rotation of the earth. More and more there is a tendency to hold the line. It is the idea that one view is the only view, and the synthesis of compromise is weak and unproductive. Yet this could not be further from the truth. Compromise is what allows progress in a safe and moderate fashion. It forces not a "my way" or a "your way," but an "our way" that everyone can own.
Extremism is a force as strong as the civil rights movement and as destructive as fascism. It is a movement without boarders and is best seen in the hindsight of history. Yet the power certain factions can hold without the consent of the people is overwhelming. The solution is always compromise. Compromise means extending the hand of concession without expecting your opponent to have their hand out there at the same time. It means giving up something for the immediate nothing. Immediacy is the favored tool of the extremist. It pits people in the here and now when the mind exceeds in foresight, planning and the realization of unending human values. Until one side sticks its neck out of the aisle more than to just look around, stalemates will continue, and America will remain a divided union trying to stand.
In the middle east, it means capitalizing on a new-found freedom and voice. The west must be as generous as the Marshal Plan was in curbing the spread of Communism. It must appeal to the people, not politically but through the human condition, pursuing a life of liberty and happiness. As a country that promotes democracy and the wellness of every life, it cannot be enough to provide military backing, weapons and sound bits. There must be a driven effort to provide direct aid, including helping to build a new economy based on a system not as well practiced. In order to win the hearts and minds, the stomachs and souls must be fed first. It must be an extended hand of hope with nothing in the immediate return but mutual respect.
Have no doubt that the tenants of extremism feed on the egotism and relevancy of presiding logic, but the solution must be to find what makes all people one. This one is found from the constant process of compromise, which does not attest to have all the answers, but can evolve around a single goal that is unyielding. A goal that is shared in the end, but differs in the means to that goal. The end is what should unite people first, and the means second. Compromise makes the world stronger through cooperation, and stable through humanitarian means.