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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Guarding Against Extremes

I'm reading "The Wizard and the Prophet" and see them as the extreme viewpoints of an answer; one campaigning for one side of the solution, the other one advocating the opposite; bouncing us back and forth between extremes, getting no closer to a workable answer.

The natural progression of technology seems to oscillate between two extremes, breaking new ground and then accounting for the consequences of progress. This polarizing creation lulls humans into "black-and-white thinking" - it is much easier to see the world in terms of absolutes, where things are either right or wrong, good or bad. This thinking provides a clear sense of direction through certainty and conviction while dangerously oversimplifying complex issues. This only leads to narrow-mindedness and intolerance, a lack of critical thinking and an unwillingness to consider alternative viewpoints.

The fear of uncertainty and change relegates the middle ground to a place of ambiguity where one languishes without direction or purpose. But extremes can serve a purpose as guardrails. They can act as warning signs, reminding us of the dangers of going too far in one direction. Extreme political views can remind us of the dangers of authoritarianism or anarchy. Extreme behaviors can remind us of the importance of moderation and self-control. The lack of compromise and cooperation as people become more concerned with being right than finding common ground can alert us to the need for empathy and understanding for the experiences of others.

We have a tendency to bounce back and forth between two extremes rather than staying in the middle. Let's start seeing those extremes for what they are: warning signs, guardrails - ushering us down the middle path of balance and nuance where we can be open to change and growth and not cling to rigid values and beliefs.

~ with help from ChatGPT

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