Meet me in the middle
One of the more annoying aspects of extreme right or left views are the generous use of labels that stereotype people into a category that defines them in a derogatory way, so that a perceived self-sense of moral or intellectual high ground can be gained by the attacker.
Words that define people by their race, religion or political views are used by both camps as a weapon because intolerance runs rampant on both sides of the debate.
I believe that most people live their lives outside of these extreme spheres and are actually a composite of many components that can drift slightly into the left or right wing orbital politics of either sphere. Most people lean toward one polarized opposite over the other in life, but they do not make a giant leap toward the extremist views.
My basic philosophy is right of centre, but it would be fair to say that I have elements of the left in my philosophy. People who would label me as an extreme right wing fanatic demonstrate a trait of extreme left wing fanaticism that has its own inherent rigid intolerance for dissenting views, but they most emphatically would not see it that way. As I said, any viewpoint that assumes intellectual, moral or racial superiority over another without any room for movement is an extreme viewpoint in my opinion.
The ability to implant an upscale vocabulary into a written or oral point does not automatically award the debate to the person with a bigger vocabulary; it just gives them a gold star in spelling. It certainly does not give them the right to label people and make a large scale assumption about what makes that other person tick in life.
What actually makes me tick as a person is somewhere between the right and left.
I emphatically believe in universal health care, but I also believe that we have an incredibly flawed system that has an over-bloated system of top-heavy executive and management salaries along with wasted spending that sucks the funding sources completely dry.
The result is a series of wildly expensive bureaucratic dams that choke off frontline service to patients. Thick layers of management are the bane of most government services and this firmly entrenched policy puts enormous pressure on the front-liners.
I believe that we need the teeth in our environmental policy that prevent air and water pollution in our natural world. Obvious issues like unchecked clear-cutting, industrial or agricultural damage to our air and water systems need environmental checks and balances, but I will not endorse heavy government investment into horrifically expensive theoretical solutions like carbon sequestration projects.
I believe that Canada has the right idea about gun control because we recognize that gun ownership is a privilege, not a right, and thus subject to a competency licence (PAL). I also like our restrictions on handguns and assault rifles. However, a multibillion-dollar investment that began as a $2-million investment for a highly-flawed and unnecessary registry made no sense to me.
I firmly believe that Canada is a net beneficiary from immigration because the newcomers help us grow as a country, but I believe that citizenship is also a privilege and not an automatic right. The idea that potential new citizens learn the working language (French or English) of their new Canadian region is a sound idea because it will break down the cultural barriers for them sooner in Canada.
These are just a few examples of my personal views.
As I said earlier, most of us are composites of a variety of views that are somewhat removed from the labels smugly applied by the real extremists, who are oblivious to the fact they could use a giant lesson in tolerance.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance columnist.