Throughout time, “radical” behaviors have been a necessary and productive means of change for not only nations, groups, and sects, but even in individual lives. Think about the end of slavery, the reform of religious communities, and governments. We often hear of people with diseases or addictions that made radical changes in order to not just combat, but eradicate the very source. Radical, meaning ‘from the root’, is not always a terrible thing to be. Sometimes a radical change is needed for survival, growth and prosperity.
Ghandi, Einstein, Martin Luther-King, and many other men and women who spurred organic changes in society could be considered radical. An individual who brought about significant weight loss, healing, spiritual or monetary freedoms based on major shifts in behaviors could be thought of as radical. A radical shift in behavior or approach is often the prelude to a change, caused by awareness and need.
Extremism, however is different as it denotes ‘outermost’, or people who act from the very outer edges of societal norms, driving something to the maximum of its potential. This includes groups of people who act out on others in a fanatical way for the very act itself, not for change. We have begun to interchange the words radical and extreme as if they are one in the same, particularly as they relate to things like terrorism. They are not equal. The irony is that we have become desensitized to the use of the word extreme.
As a society, we have adopted and glorified the term with programs featuring ‘extreme makeovers’, ‘extreme weight loss’, ‘extreme sports’ and the like. Extreme anything is never a good thing, as the behavior begets more of the same. During the thought process of extreme behavior, the set point continues to rise, and the desire to exceed and outdo the previous level takes over, pushing the limit. Yet, the limit itself is a constantly moving target.
Global and domestic tragedies that occur as a result of extremism are horrific. They cause us as a society, and as individuals, to focus on the specific group, government or individual behind such acts. The emotions that follow may be rage, anger, fear or sadness. Often times, as humans tend to do, we sink our teeth into our opinion and position of what we feel are the current causes of such events, not realizing our energy is being wasted on the wrong thing.
Rather than focusing on hating and blaming a particular group, country, administration, person or religion, what if we as a ‘collective consciousness’ could focus on the restoration of core principals and behaviors? Could you imagine the impact we would have on this world, or at least our small corner of it?
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Whatever your particular belief system is, be it prayer, thought, vibration, God, universe or nothing, one thing remains true: collective energy and movement will always produce change. Regardless of our partisan affiliations, religious beliefs, cultural differences or socioeconomic disparity, it’s mass consciousness and self-awareness that can produce the energy needed to make the shift we need.
What a radical idea.