I have read a couple of books recently that have made me think a lot. The first book I read was about a group of eco-terrorists that started by pulling up survey stakes and ended up blowing up bridges and trying to blow up a major dam. It was interesting that I could easily relate with the characters at the beginning of the book, and I could see how the characters kept getting pulled in to more and more serious crimes. Don't get me wrong, I will never blow up bridges or dams, no matter how bad they may be for the environment, but I could see how well intentioned people could end up there. ( I should point out that this was a work of fiction)
The other book that I am currently reading is about religious extremism. The book talks of well intentioned believers who find some odd teachings that they take to an extreme. After a series of events the people in the book become more extreme until God tells them to kill people. And they do. It is unbelievably disturbing how people who truly feel like they are doing what is right can end up killing innocent people. I'm a good person. I believe in God. I don't believe that God would tell kill someone, but the commonalities that I have with this guy disturb me. (Unfortunately this was a true story.)
In reading these stories I think of extremist and the opposite of extremism. I figure the average Joe who goes to work every day, does his job and dreams of things that he will never have the courage to try is the opposite of extreme. Sure, there are people who chase their dreams without being dangerous extremists, but the dangerous extremists were following their true beliefs with passion. When people find those motivational quotes that they like to read, they tend to encourage people to 'think outside the box' and follow their dreams. I like those quotes. I want to follow my dreams and they aren't traditional. I would love to live on a farm without electricity growing my own food and working side by side with my children and wife. I would love to go without owning a car. I am willing to give up a lot of traditional comforts in order to pursue various dreams that I have, whether it's simply a dream to be closer to family or if it is the right time to start a farm without electricity.
I like to think of myself as a logical person and when I take a step back, my ideals seem a lot more extreme than where the 'extremists' started. Does that mean that I should make my dreams closer to mainstream? Do I need to attend a job and not ask questions? I don't think that is the case. Maybe the difference is that I can live my ideals without breaking the law. The extremists all broke the law well before they started injuring people or blowing stuff up. So as long as I don't break the law I'm fine.
That is a nice thought, but I still don't like it. Some of my greatest heroes broke the law. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Rosa Parks. They broke the law for the betterment of the world. My goal is not to break the law, but my ideal in life is to improve the world in whatever small way I can and historically that has often involved breaking the law.
My ultimate goal in life is to not live like everyone else. I want to make a difference. The worst way to do that is to live like everyone else. In order to make a big difference, you have to live a big life. You have to be extreme like MLK, Gandhi and Jesus himself. And you need to somehow make sure that you don't end up in the wrong kind of extremist group.
And I have another job interview on Friday. Unfortunately, there are many other jobs that I want more than I want that one. On some levels I'm afraid of being offered a job that I don't really want because I might take it.
And soon I'm going to start reading my next book about Buddhist monks. That way I can contemplate peace and love rather than extremists that end up doing bad things.