The best thing to prevent a slip into extremism, on either side of politics, is to be anchored by a deeply personal issue on which your views are entirely out of whack with prevailing trends in your voter group. Being a gay conservative or a pro-Israel lefty might do this. Or you could be a latte-left type who generally votes with the 'inner city', while enjoying a rural pursuit like hunting or fishing.
For me it's simply fishing. Raised in the bush, I've experienced the deep connection to the earth that comes from becoming part of the food chain (part, not 'top of', in the NT in particular!). I don't fish often enough, but when I do I know I'm experiencing something absent from inner city life. Something you don't even get by watching wildlife, although I can do that for hours as well.
My attachment to it is so heartfelt that I would abandon other issues to protect it. I would never support or vote for a party that wanted to ban amateur fishing.
In this regard I am in a minority among inner city lefties. And the vast chasm between the views pushed by the likes of PETA and Animal Liberation and my own love for an age-old pursuit has repercussions far beyond this single issue. I believe that government should drive social progress and back it up with legislation, yet my love of fishing reminds me to think twice before supporting measures that take away people's rights, as opposed to protecting them. It makes me wary of the far left in general, and deeply mistrustful of any animal rights agenda.
A pity, because I believe in minimising suffering of animals in all contexts, whether that's using the most humane methods in my fishing or buying, where possible, free range eggs and beef. But while many who campaign for animal rights are willing to compromise, this does not appear to be the case for the cheerleaders of the movement. In this regard, the moral certainty in relation to something so debatable and the desire to legislate in absolutes, these activists remind me of the hardcore anti-abortion lobby. Perhaps that is what happens if you equate something morally with the murder of an adult human; all compromise becomes unacceptable.
My post is not directed at arguing about the merits of fishing, nor is it a dig at vegans or strong supporters of animal rights. I accept and even respect their reasons for choosing such a path, provided this does not trammel on something so close to my own heart. Because fishing is something I love in my soul, rather than a rational position reached over the 14th latte, I have no interest in debating its rights or wrongs.
Rather, I am interested in the idea of the contra-issue, the strongly held viewpoint that anchors you and gives you a direct insight into the flaws of those you otherwise agree with. How do people deal with this? It seems to be a choice between denial or moderation. Do you, dear reader, whether left or right, have such a contra-issue?
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